China has announced an agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) to collaborate on the fight against cancer, the leading cause of death in the country.
The National Cancer Center (NCC) of the Ministry of Health revealed that the accord was reached with WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at the International Conference for Cancer Prevention and Control in Beijing on Wednesday.
Under the agreement, the NCC will share its database of China's cancer cases with the IARC in a bid for more accurate diagnoses and the center will send medical staff to the WHO for training in preparing a "Cancer in China" report.
The president of the NCC, He Jie, highlighted the country's growing concern with the incidence of the dreaded disease. "Cancer is now the main reason Chinese people die," he said, noting that 4.3 million cases were diagnosed and 2.8 million of them caused death in 2015.
"The five-year survival rate of cancer patients in China is only 30.9 percent. That's 17 points lower than the global average," he added.
IARC director Christopher Wild expressed his optimism regarding China's participation. "We need China on the world stage for cancer research. It's actually your time to lead," he said in his speech at the opening of the conference.
Wild also pointed out that cancer threatens both developing and developed countries.
He Jie portrayed the conference as a "once-in-a-decade chance" for China.
"The government is supporting us like never before," he said. "They're putting it on priority. It's time for us to take on the responsibility."
Lung cancer is the most diagnosed type in China, followed by four types of gastrointestinal cancers. Breast cancer is the most common among women.
"It may be extremely hard now to completely cure lung cancer, but if we can achieve early detection, there's 90 percent chance the patient can survive more than five years," He said.