Cancer control activities in the Republic of Korea

Keun-Young Yoo
Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology 2008, 38 (5): 327-33
South Korea has a population of 47.3 million. The whole population is covered by a mandatory social insurance system (the National Health Insurance Program) that is financed through the contributions paid by the insured and their employers. Cancer has been the leading cause of death in Korea since 1983. About 130 000 people develop cancer annually with 66 000 deaths in 2006. Cancer patients' 5-year survival rates between 1998 and 2002 were 37.8 and 57.0% for men and women, respectively. The five leading primary cancer sites were stomach, lung, liver, colon and rectum, and bladder among males, whereas the most common cancers were stomach, breast, colon and rectum, uterine cervix and lung among females. With the rapidly aging population, reducing cancer burden at the national level has become one of the major political issues in Korea. The government formulated its first 10-year plan for cancer control in 1996. In 2000, the National Cancer Center was created and the Cancer Control Division was set up within the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The Cancer Control Act was legislated in 2003. Korea's major national cancer control programs are anti-smoking campaigns, hepatitis B virus vaccination, cancer registration and networking, promotion of R&D activities for cancer control, education and training for cancer control and prevention, operation of the national cancer information center, operation of the mass screening program for five common cancers, management of cancer patients at home, financial support for cancer patients and designation of regional cancer centers.

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