« 人差し指がすりむけるほどに | トップページ | 新着プログラム20 »

2008年11月17日 (月)


2008/11/17 --The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 15(IHT/Asahi: November 17,2008)

EDITORIAL: 50-year cancer fight


Two-thirds of cancer can be prevented, and if detected early, can be cured.


So says John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, who recently made a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Japan Cancer Society.


In order to prevent cancer, developed countries like the United States focus much of their efforts on restricting cigarette smoking as well as providing regular checkups. Japan, in contrast, is still far behind.


Since 1981, cancer has been the leading cause of death in Japan. Last year, about 340,000 people died of cancer. In other words, one third of deaths in Japan last year were caused by cancer.


Fifty years ago, the Japan Cancer Society had already foreseen this crisis. In its charter, it warned, "It is not too much to say that cancer is currently our largest public health issue."


The Japan Cancer Society--a private organization--works to promote research, train experts, and spread public awareness. It places great emphasis on cancer checkups, and works especially hard to spread the practice of group checkups for early detection of stomach cancer.


Of course, the government has the most important role in combating cancer. The society's charter also says one of its major goals is to "have the government adopt the fight against cancer as an official administrative task of the government."


It has been a half century since those words were written. In 2006, the basic law against cancer was created. The basic anti-cancer promotion program based on that law aims to reduce the rate of cancer deaths by 20 percent in 10 years. It also seeks to increase the rate of cancer checkups from the current 20 percent to more than 50 percent in five years.


However, the government's responsibility is not clear under this program. The government has been unenthusiastic about measures to reduce smoking, and also forces local municipalities, already short on funds, to bear the costs of the cancer checkups. To increase the rate of those who get checked for cancer, governmental funds are essential. In the long run it would save money. The fight against cancer must become the government's "official administrative task" in the real sense.


In the past 50 years, our relationship with cancer has changed greatly. Nowadays, we are told of our illness, choose our treatment, and live our post-cancer lives. The days when everything was up to the doctor are gone.


In a reflection of these times, Seffrin pointed out the importance of the private sector providing appropriate information and support to patients and families.


The American Cancer Society takes phone consultations 24 hours a day, free of charge. It gets 3,000 calls a day. Its activities are widely known, and it receives huge donations, more than 100 billion yen each year, which are used to support the society's wide range of activities.


Takeo Sekihara, board member of the Japan Cancer Society, and a survivor of six cancer operations, says more activities that support the patients and families are needed.


The Japan Cancer Society started its "cancer hotline" in 2006, but there were only about 3,500 phone consultations in 2007.


The Asahi Shimbun supported the Japan Cancer Society from its inception, and has supported its activities ever since. When the society was created, we ran an editorial calling for the eradication of cancer. That editorial includes a phrase that says, "cancer is extremely difficult to cure." But these days, cancer has become a disease with a cure.


We wish to learn from our experiences of the past 50 years, and create a world where society comes together to support the future of cancer patients.



« 人差し指がすりむけるほどに | トップページ | 新着プログラム20 »





« 人差し指がすりむけるほどに | トップページ | 新着プログラム20 »