Breast cancer rates increasing twice as fast as global rate, according to WHO

China 24

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, including China.

But cases there are increasing at an alarming rate.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo reports.

It’s an unconventional setting for a concert: a cancer care center in Beijing.

The audience: cancer patients. The performer is an Australian violinist, and for him, this is personal.

“My mother was a breast cancer sufferer so I always wanted to do something to give back,” said Patrick Roberts.

Roberts’ mother is part of a growing group of people worldwide affected by breast cancer, the most common cancer among women, according to the World Health Organization.

The disease is especially acute in China. According to the WHO, cases of breast cancer there are increasing twice as fast as the global rate.

“China accounts for one third of the world’s breast cancer incidents,” said Ma Fei of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.  “Tens of thousands of our victims die from it.  In fact, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among young Chinese women under 45 years old.”

At the Tianjin Cancer Institute and Hospital, at least 4000 cancer patients – women and men – have reconstruction surgery every year.

“I always knew breast cancer was common in women so I really was not surprised,” said male patient Jia Xuzhu.  “I suspect it’s because I had a lot of red meat and chicken in my younger days. So now, I mostly eat vegetables.”

Experts say diet can play a role as well as lack of exercise.

Another factor: Chinese women are less likely to breastfeed – making them more prone to cancer.

Genetics can also play a role.

Recently, China revealed its largest genetic analysis of Chinese people, helping identify genes linked to certain diseases like breast cancer.

“In diagnosis of breast cancer, we previously tended to find two gene mutations from the genetic database used in the West,” said Xu Xun, executive director of China National GeneBank.  “Now we can make the study more clearly thanks to China’s own DNA sequencing.”

The Chinese government and medical experts are doing their part to push for prevention.

In 2012, a cancer screening program was launched in several cities.

And, at the Tianjin Hospital, doctors are working with experts around the world to educate others about early detection – what they say is key to offset the disease.

Chen Xi discusses increasing breast cancer cases in China

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Chen Xi of the Yale School of Public Health about increasing breast cancer rates in China.