The health ministry said Tuesday it will set up a task force to achieve the goal of raising the percentage of Japanese who undergo screening tests for colon, breast and uterus cancer above 50 percent by 2012 from the current 20 percent to 30 percent.
The new body, to be headed by Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe, will hold its inaugural meeting Thursday to discuss how to promote campaigns to be implemented jointly by the central and local governments, private-sector corporations and patient groups.
The goal is included in the government’s 2007 basic policy on curbing cancer that also calls for reducing deaths from cancer among those aged up to 74 by 20 percentage points within 10 years.
Cancer has been the leading cause of death for Japanese since 1981, and responsible for about one-third of all deaths.
In 2007, the percentage of Japanese who took a screening test for colon cancer stayed below 30 percent, while the percentage of women who underwent examinations for breast and uterus cancer was around 20 percent.
The ministry is set to start from this fiscal year free screening tests for breast and cervical cancer for women in certain age groups, and has earmarked ¥21.6 billion.
It is planning to request about ¥21 billion in budgetary spending to continue the project in fiscal 2010.