Some 79,000 new cancer cases detected in Turkey are attributed to smoking and obesity, according to health officials, who released figures on World Cancer Day yesterday. Overall, 159,000 cases were diagnosed last year in the country.
Officials from the Ministry of Health and non-governmental organizations held a press briefing on the occasion. Figures presented at the briefing show lung cancer to be most prevalent among men, while breast cancer had the highest rate of cancer diseases diagnosed in women.
Last year, a total of 97,000 men were diagnosed with cancer, while 62,000 women were diagnosed with the disease. Obesity is the main cause of about 40,000 cases, two thirds of whom were women, while lung cancer mostly claimed male victims, who generally tend to smoke more than women.
Health Ministry officials say they have been expanding efforts for early diagnosis of cancer cases through Early Diagnosis and Education Centers, or KETEM. Forty more KETEMs equipped with medical equipment to scan the patients for cancer and manned with staff offering information about cancer types and how to avoid the disease will be added to the existing 127 centers.
According to the OECD health statistics for 34 countries released last year, Turkey is in 33rd place in cancer-related casualties.
The country plans to open the Institute of Cancer Research this year. It will be part of the institutes of health recently inaugurated to research and develop a local cure for several diseases. The institute will fund research on cancer across the country.
Speaking at a press conference, Professor Seçil Özkan, director of the Ministry of Health's Public Health Agency, said cancer cases related to smoking have seen a decline thanks to a nationwide anti-smoking campaign endorsed by legal regulations banning smoking in public places. Özkan said the ministry has also launched an anti-obesity campaign, as obesity-related cancer cases showed a rise. She noted an awareness campaign among schoolchildren to change unhealthy eating habits. Introducing dried nuts and fruits as a side course in school meals and incentives for the construction of bicycle lanes on main roads were among the anti-obesity projects.