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Message from the Director

Shoichiro Tsugane

On January 1, 2016, the Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening underwent a structural reorganization, making a new start as the Center for Public Health Sciences.

Since its opening in 2004, the Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening has conducted specialized research into cancer prevention and screening, aiming not only to prevent the development of cancer, but also to reduce mortality and decline in the quality of life of patients who do develop the disease. Accordingly, we have built evidence through epidemiologic studies and created guidelines founded on scientific evidence, as well as made policy recommendations on issues such as accuracy management in cancer screening. We have also provided approximately 14,000 patients (30,000 cumulatively) the latest cancer screening technologies while researching their efficacy. In January 2016, we reformed and strengthened our organizational structure under the broader framework of “society and health” by integrating affiliated research in public health, health science, and social science to complement our ongoing research into cancer prevention and screening.

In addition to the prevention and early detection (screening) of cancer, the Center for Public Health Sciences conducts research into a range of social, economic, and ethical issues surrounding cancer treatment, including support for cancer patients and survivors, supportive care, and cancer countermeasures. In doing so, we have set ourselves a mission of improving the quality of citizens’ lives, addressing inequality, and maintaining and further improving the level of public health. Through these initiatives, we also aim to lay the foundation for a swift response to the multifaceted disease of cancer and the many changes occurring in our society.

Cancer has no single cause. It is a multifactorial disease involving a complex interaction between lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol, diet and exercise, chronic infection by viral hepatitis or helicobacter pylori, and the genetic background of each individual. In recent years it has also been suggested that psychosocial factors, the fetal and developmental environment, and other medical conditions such as diabetes are linked to the development of cancer.

Furthermore, the incidence rate for cancer rises with age. It is currently estimated that one in two Japanese will experience cancer at least once during their lifetime, and the number of cancer patients will only increase as Japanese society ages further. Japan must therefore develop into a society that does not succumb to, but instead can live together with cancer, while placing a firm focus on prevention. To achieve this, countermeasures based on scientific evidence are needed.

A further issue complicating practical matters is that for many people, cancer is one of several concurrent health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, infectious diseases, and psychological/neurological disorders -- not to mention aging. While it is true that cancer is a major problem, it is by no means the only health issue that requires attention. Unless individuals are healthy and free of other diseases, the prevention of cancer alone is meaningless. And even if cancer is successfully treated, attention must still be paid to preventing and treating other diseases. To address these types of changes in societal needs, we must look at not only prevention and treatment, but also readdress the disease of cancer from a broader perspective including its relationship with society, while setting real research objectives and steadily applying these findings to benefit society.

Through a new paradigm shift in our operating framework, we will work to achieve more ambitious targets thorough our initiatives. Cancer screening services will continue to be provided through the Screening Center at the National Cancer Center Hospital. We look forward to your ongoing support, encouragement, and custom under our new operating structure.

Shoichiro Tsugane, M.D.,D.M.Sc
Center for Public Health Sciences