Cancer, heart disease kill more in Vietnam due to late diagnosis, bad habits: experts

Thanh Nien News

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Patients at Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Patients at Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre


Non-communicable diseases, also known as chronic diseases, like cancer, diabetes and heart conditions are increasing at “alarming” rates in Vietnam, now causing 75 percent of all deaths, officials said.
Health experts said at a conference in Hanoi last week that chronic diseases are and will continue to be a common killer in Vietnam. They said the diagnostic system is falling behind and many people are reluctant to change their habits, local media reported.
Figures released at the conference showed that the diseases kill 375,000 people in Vietnam every year, with cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes at the top of the list.
The death rate caused by chronic diseases in Vietnam is above the world’s average of 70 percent.
The country is having 150,000 new cancer patients every year.
But the treatment capability has failed to keep up with the pace.
Doctors at the conference said most provincial hospitals in Vietnam and those at district level are not able to provide cancer diagnosis and treatment services.
Hanoi’s leading cancer hospital K is short of 100-150 doctors and cannot offer radiotherapy to all patients in need.
Bui Dieu, its director, said a survey of 51,000 patients at K and other leading public hospitals in Hanoi, Hai Phong and Hue showed that 71 percent went to hospital at stage three when chances of survival are already low. 
Bad habits
Officials at the conference said non-communicable diseases are a heavy burden on the health care systems of all countries, but the burden is particularly heavier in developing countries, where more people are dying of the diseases. 
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said most of the non-infectious diseases require life treatment, but they can be controlled through daily habits, like less drinking, smoking and more exercising.
Studies have found that good control of the risk factors can help prevent cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Socorro Escalante, representative of the World Health Organization in Vietnam, said at the conference that its surveys found more than half of the men in Vietnam smoke, a quarter of male adults drink dangerous amounts of alcoholic drinks and 90 percent of its people eat more salt than the safe amount of six grams a day.
Those factors have led to the surge of patients with cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes in the country the past decade, he said.

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