News & Features


A Guide to Cancer Screening: Early Detection for a Healthy Life

The most effective antidotes to cancer are early detection and early treatment. Why not make regular screening a part of your health maintenance regime?

Japan is one of the most cancer–ridden countries in the world
More women are getting cancer in the prime of their lives
Did you know what constitutes the number one cause of death in Japan? The answer is: cancer. The ratio of deaths due to cancer is so high in this country; it is no exaggeration to say that Japan is number one when it comes to being the most cancer–ridden country in the world. Certainly, this is not something to be celebrated.
According to statistics, around 350,000 Japanese people lose their lives to cancer every year,[1] around 694,000 people are afflicted with cancer each year,[2] and the number of people receiving continual medical care reaches approximately 1,520,000 a year.[3]
Among cancer patients of the working generations, women stand out in particular. The incidence rate of cancer in women largely surpasses that of men, with around 1.6 times more women getting cancer than men in their 20s and around 3 times more women than men getting cancer in their 30s.[4]

Do not wait until symptoms appear
Cancer screenings are meant for people who are still healthy
Despite this situation, awareness about cancer screening is low among the Japanese. While 70–80% of people obtain screenings in Europe and the United States, only 20–30% of people do so in Japan.[5] This is a very unfortunate fact.
By the time one becomes aware of the symptoms of cancer, it is mostly the case that the cancer has already progressed too far. Therefore, it is highly important to detect cancer before symptoms appear. Early detection and early, adequate treatment are the keys to complete recovery from cancer and preventing the development of advanced cancer.
The chances of getting cancer during one’s lifetime are 54% for men and 41% for women.[6]
This is equivalent to one in two people being at risk of developing cancer. Even if you are healthy and full of energy, complacency can be dangerous. Cancer screening is rather meant to target people who are still healthy. We recommend that you get screened regularly, not only for yourself but also for your family and loved ones.

Cancer screenings can be obtained in municipalities all over the country
Five types of cancer screenings are promoted
The target groups and frequencies of the cancer screening tests promoted by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare are as follows.

Cancer screenings are conducted in municipalities all across the country. We recommend that you make cancer screening a part of your health maintenance regime.

[1] Vital Statistics, 2010
[2] Estimates based on population–based cancer registry, 2006
[3] Patient Survey, Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, 2008
[4] Center for Cancer Control and Information Services
[5] OECD Health Data, 2010 June Edition
[6] Center for Cancer Control and Information Services, 2005

About Cancer Screening


Cancer screenings are conducted by municipalities as heath promotion services based on Article 19. Paragraph 2 ofthe Health PromotionAct (Law Nov 103 of2002).
The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has enacted ‘Guidelines for Health Education with Emphasis on Cancer Prevention and for Enforcement of Cancer Screenings” (Notice from the Director of the Health Service Bureau of the Ministry of Health. Labor. and Welfare', issued on April 1st. 2008) and promotes scientifically-based cancer screenings.


Screenlng Targel Exams Períormed Target Age Group Frequency
Stomach Cancer Medical interview and stomach X-ray exam 40 and over Once a year
Cervical Cancer Medical interview, inspection, cervical smear test, pelvic exam 20 and over Once in 2 years
Lung Cancer Medical interview, chest X-ray exam, and sputum cytology exam 40 and over Once a year
Breast Cancer Medical interview, inspection, palpation, and breast X-ray exam (mammography) 40 and over Once in 2 years
Colorectalo Cancer Medical interview, and fecal occult blood test 40 and over Once a year

*1 Cervical cancer screenings : Those with symptoms are encouraged to first consult a medical institution. HoweverI if the patient consents, a cyiological exam of the uterine body shall be performed following a cervical smear test. Until 2003, the target age group were those aged 30 and over, and the frequency was once a year.
*2 Breast cancers creenings : Until 2003,the target age group were those aged 50 and over, and the frequency was once a year.