Cancer control initiatives at the National Cancer Center Korea

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Published: 5 Sep 2023
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Prof Kim Yeol - National Cancer Center Korea, Goyang, South Korea

Prof Kim Yeol speaks to ecancer at SEABCS 2023 about the cancer control initiatives in place at the National Cancer Center Korea.

He explains they offer breast and lung cancer screening programmes to prioritise early detection as part of their cancer control plan. Secondly, they prioritise prevention. Thirdly supporting patient survivorship post-treatment and then also supporting palliative care for patients.

Prof Yeol outlines some background on the current smoking rates in Korea and how the government is working to support smoking cessation initiatives.

I’m one of the in-charge persons to support major cancer screening programmes, I’m the in-charge person for supporting, operating lung cancer screening programmes for the lung, heavy smokers by using CT scans. And over in breast cancer the national cancer screening programme provides mammography for over 41 years aged women by using mammography at an interval of  two years. The uptake rate is about 60% and 10% of people take the breast cancer screening by private programmes, so the total screening uptake rate is about 70% in Korea. 

It's all activities, the early detection and supporting screening for the cancer patients. Our cancer control plan is prevention is first and early detection is second, third is support for survivorship after cancer treatment and fourth is supporting palliative care for terminal cancer patients. We have many expert efforts to support all the journey of cancer patients and supporting healthy people to prevent cancer. Our goal is overcoming cancer in Korea.

What is the Government doing to stop people smoking?

The Korean male smoking rate is still high and tobacco taxes are slightly lower compared to other developed countries. Recently we made some efforts to give out picture warnings on tobacco packs and increase the tobacco tax. By a tax we support smokers to quit smoking, cessation, the pharmacologic therapy for smoking cessation is nearly free. Smokers can get pharmacological therapies and smoking cessation counselling at every clinic, it’s the Korean system. 

Recently the smoking rate is decreasing in males but the other problems are the alternative tobaccos - electronic tobacco – the user rate is slightly increasing and we are preparing a warning, public awareness, about the harmfulness of that.