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Government battles liver cancer with monitoring program

2010/05/25 21:42:28

Taipei, May 25 (CNA) More than 1,000 people are participating ina government project aimed at fighting liver cancer, health officialssaid Tuesday.

The Bureau of National Health Insurance said it is encouraginghospitals to see to it high-risk patients have regular checkups toensure the early detection of cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis B carriers and hepatitis C patients are more likely todevelop cirrhosis and liver cancer, the bureau said, adding that itwould target those two groups for the monitoring project.

According to bureau statistics, 685,000 Taiwanese have beendiagnosed with hepatitis or cirrhosis, but only 91,000, or 13percent, received abdominal sonography and liver function tests forliver cancer every six months, as recommended by liver experts at theNational Health Research Institute.

The bureau said liver cancer can be detected at an early stageand that treatment is more effective if the disease is diagnosed inits first or second stage. Liver cancer and lung cancer have been thetwo deadliest cancers over the past decade.

The bureau has set up a reward system to encourage hospitals thatenroll and routinely monitor high-risk patients, with hospitalseligible to receive additional funding if they take the initiative toinclude the patients into the care program.

According to the bureau, a similar monitoring scheme forschizophrenia patients was also put in place this year to betterdetect high-risk patients.

(By Chen Li-ting and Kay Liu)