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The health ministry hopes to improve the quality of cancer exams offered by local governments that now vary greatly by region, ministry officials said.

Hospitals and other institutes consigned by municipalities conduct exams to detect stomach, intestinal, breast, uterine and lung cancer in compliance with legal requirements, and ministry panels located in every prefecture check and supervise the exams.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will set “standard” figures for ratios of detecting cancer and identifying people who need further exams, helping prefectural governments to analyze the validity of the exams and find ways to improve them.

“Many municipalities choose the organizations that conduct exams by letting them compete through bidding,” said Suketami Tominaga, honorary president of Aichi Cancer Center. “Organizations that offer low prices win bids, and thus there is fear that cheap and bad-quality exams may be conducted.”