Some 200,000 Vietnamese will be diagnosed with cancer and 100,000 will die of the disease during this and next year, making it the biggest threat, among non-contagious diseases, to public health, warned the Ministry of Health.

The warning was released at a meeting held in Hanoi on July 8 to review one year of implementing the national goals on cancer prevention and treatment and to discuss plans for 2009-2010.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen said at the meeting that the project was deployed starting in 2008 with the aim of promoting cancer prevention and treatment at grassroots medical clinics, thus gradually reducing the morbidity and mortality rates regarding the disease and improving the living conditions of cancer patients.

Deputy Director of the Tumours and Cancers Hospital Dr. Tran Van Thuan said recent surveys have shown poor public awareness of the disease as well as obsolete technical infrastructure at major hospitals in all 63 provinces and cities.

Out of 12,050 people surveyed in 12 provinces and cities, only 35 percent gave correct answers. 67.2 percent said cancer is incurable so early or late diagnosis doesn’t make any difference, and 35.8 percent believed surgery would make cancers grow faster and actually hasten the death of the patient.

Nine of 63 major hospitals at the provincial level under the survey have not yet set up a department of oncology and 10 others refused to treat cancer patients at all.

This is a major cause of the increasing number of cancer patients, and deaths, in Vietnam, he emphasised.

To cope with the problem, the project is designed to help all pilot provinces and cities launch informational and educational campaigns to raise awareness of the disease down to the district level.

It has also set a target to provide medical check-ups for early diagnosis of breast and uterine cancers for 50,000 women in the high-risk age group. Surveys on cancer at the communal level will be conducted in the central city of Danang and the southern province of Kien Giang .

Over the past year, the project has helped set up five additional tumour and cancer departments at hospitals in five provinces, four in the north and one in the central region.

In addition, over 31,500 women aged between 30 and 54 years, the age group considered at high risk, underwent medical check-ups for early diagnosis of breast and uterine cancers.

The project has also helped set up a model of community-based medical treatments for cancer patients in critical condition in Hanoi and the central province of Thua Thien-Hue . The Cancer and Tumour Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City has opened a department to manage pain and track the development of cancers under the project.

Breast and uterine cancers affected 27.3 women out of every 100,000 people in the north and 17.1 of every 100,000 in the south.

For men, lung and stomach cancers are the biggest threat./.