Doctors have urged patients of breast cancer, the most prevalent cancer in Chinese women, to manage the condition as a chronic disease after they undergo surgery or therapy.
Official statistics show that the five-year survival rate among breast cancer patients in China has reached 83 percent. There are nearly 300,000 new breast cancer patients each year.
"In Shanghai, the rate has even reached nearly 92 percent, surpassing the United States. It's important at the moment to put forward a comprehensive model for post-surgery and post-therapy patients to better manage the cancer as a chronic disease," said Shao Zhimin, director of the breast surgery section of the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, on Monday during International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which falls in October.
According to doctors, patients could possibly contract diseases such as dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, abnormal bone metabolism and even psychological problems after receiving a surgery or therapy, in turn affecting their quality of life and increase chances of a relapse.
"It's important to educate survivors about long-term disease management in order to help them live better and further contribute to a better overall medical treatment of breast cancer," said Yin Yongmei, deputy director of oncology at the Nanjing-based Jiangsu Province Hospital.
Yin also encouraged post-surgery patients to follow doctors' advice to continue undergoing endocrine therapies, which have been proved by overseas studies as effective in significantly raising survival rates.
"Figures from the United States show that while 68 percent of patients complete at least one year of endocrine therapy after surgery, only less than 20 percent of patients continue the therapy for five years," Yin said, adding that she believes the percentages are lower in China.
"One thing particular about breast cancer patients is that they need more psychological support from family and friends," Yin added. "There is a lot that the society can contribute to support such patients and their families both physically and psychologically."
A nationwide research which will poll breast cancer patients, their families and doctors was also launched on Monday. Initiated by US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Spring Rain Doctors, a domestic online health communication platform between patients and doctors, the research is aimed at collecting data and establishing a model of long-term management for breast cancer patients.