The number of adults getting free cancer screenings provided by the government has increased in the past few years, indicating an improvement of perceived and actual quality, the National Cancer Center (NCC) said Monday.
The government currently provides gastric, colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screenings free of charge and notifies individuals via mail to get the recommended screening. Despite the national screening program, many Koreans have chosen to pay out-of-pocket for screenings at private institutions due to a widespread perception that public screenings are of poor quality.
However, according to the survey, people are now more likely to take the free public screening rather than pay for a private one, according to an NCC study on 4,000 adults.
The study showed 55.7 percent of the surveyed chose a public screening while 44.3 percent got a private one. The number indicates a 38 percent increase from 2004, the NCC said.
Public screenings were used most for stomach cancer (61 percent), breast cancer (57.9 percent), cervical cancer (57.1 percent), and colon cancer (47 percent), it said.
The survey also showed 65 percent of Koreans adhered to national cancer screening recommendations this year, indicating a 26.3 percent point increase from 2004. By cancer type, the rate of compliance was the highest for stomach cancer with 72.2 percent, 66.8 percent for cervical cancer, 63.6 percent for breast cancer, and 56.8 percent for colon cancer.
“The continual increase in the number of people getting national cancer screenings reflects increased public confidence in them, aided by efforts to improve national cancer screening quality,” NCC said.
The number of women in their 20s getting cervical cancer examinations also increased dramatically since the government included it in the national program last year, the NCC said. Cervical cancer screenings were previously available to only women over 30 years of age.
A survey of 500 women in their 20s showed the rate of women who got a cervical cancer screening was 33 percent this year – a steady increase from 29.7 percent last year, 15.5 percent in 2015, and 12.8 percent in 2014.
Meanwhile, the number of cervical cancer cases has been increasing gradually for women in their 20s and 30s while decreasing progressively for women over 40, the NCC said, emphasizing the importance of getting examined early.
As for the primary motivation for getting a cancer screening, 63.3 percent said the government notice to get examined played a big part – a 48.6 percentage point increase from 2005. The most significant reason for not getting a cancer screening was the individual felt healthy, followed by other reasons such as lack of time, and lack of money.
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