An increasing number of Chinese patients are seeking medical treatment overseas, as new cases of cancer as well as the number of patients dying of the disease have soared in recent years. In 2015, 4.292 million new cases of cancer were recorded in China, and 2.814 million patients died of the disease, up 20 percent and 28.7 percent, respectively, compared to 2012.
Advanced medical treatment in developed countries such as the U.S. is one of the reasons that lure Chinese patients to go abroad. According to statistics from IMS Health, a U.S. company that provides information, services and technology for the healthcare industry, the five-year survival rate of all cancer patients in China in 2015 was 36.9 percent, while in the U.S. it had reached 70 percent in 2012.
Also, new medicines for cancer treatment usually become available in developed countries several years before they gain approval in China. Another important reason is that patients are able to receive better services and care in the U.S., Japan and European countries. Nevertheless, the high cost of overseas medical services makes it affordable to only a few Chinese. Moreover, those seeking treatment overseas should understand that foreign medical institutions cannot cure all diseases. They should also take caution in choosing intermediary institutions, hospitals and doctors.
Behind the rising number of patients pursuing medical services overseas is the improvement of people's quality of life. The trend of cross-border medical service reflects the allocation of medical resources globally. Such an allocation is not unidirectional, but bi-directional, as Chinese hospitals are also attracting patients from abroad.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Oriental Outlook on May 11)