Siriraj Hospital aims to eliminate breast cancer deaths


Breast cancer treatment in Thailand has improved to the point where the director of Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok vowed last week to ensure that his facility achieves a 100 percent survival rate in five years for women diagnosed in the first stage of the disease, and survival rates of 90 and 80 percent for second- and third-stage patients.

Dr. Pornchai O-charoenrat, director of Siriraj Hospital’s Faculty of Medicine said that the number of new cases of breast cancer per year has increased by 20.5 percent, and that in 2017 there would be around 20,000 new cases of breast cancer in Thailand. About 10,000 women will perish from the disease. It is the most common type of cancer to afflict Thai women, and the World Health Organization has said it prevalence has been steadily rising as Thais have been adopting more Westernized lifestyles.

He also claimed that Siriraj Hospital’s treatment of breast cancer has improved to the point where it has achieved much higher survival rates than the national survival rate and is equal to that found in many Western countries. He said that the survival rate for breast cancer patients treated at Siriraj after five years is 92.1 percent compared with 89.6 percent at standard hospitals in the United Kingdom. Most developing countries do not approach those survival rates, but Thailand’s public health system is among the finest in the developing world, while the average survival rate in middle-income countries is 60 percent, the doctor said.

The hospital believes it can make further advances in breast cancer survival rates because it has begun using more advanced technologies and facilities to deliver more effective treatments. Administrators did not detail, however, what new technologies they are now using.

Siriraj was founded in the 1888 by King Chulalongkorn after one of his sons died from dysentery and in the aftermath of a widespread outbreak of cholera. It was the first modern hospital in Thailand and has long been the primary teaching hospital in the country helping to produce a corps of highly educated health professionals.

Early in its history, the hospital received help and expertise from American doctors sent by the Rockefeller Foundation to raise its standards to levels approximating Western hospitals and teaching universities as much as possible.

Advances pioneered or introduced at Siriraj often filter out the Thai medical community at large, and so improvements in breast cancer survival rates at Siriraj are likely to translate into improved national survival rates over time.

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