A draft report by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) on advanced “genome cancer treatment” for selecting the best treatment for individual patients using their genome information was released on May 28. Around seven hub hospitals will be designated within this fiscal year ahead of the implementation of this plan. The number of hospitals offering genome treatment will be increased further in the next two years, aiming at making this treatment available at hospitals in all prefectures in a few years.
This plan is aimed at making the groundbreaking treatment available in all regions in order to lower the fatality rate among cancer patients. The draft report will be submitted to an experts’ panel on May 29, and the MHLW will work on the necessary budget allocations.
Genome treatment of cancer aims at selecting the best medication and treatment for individual patients by examining the genetic mutations that caused the cancer. Since it addresses the cause of the illness directly, it is believed to be more effective than current treatments that focus only on individual organs.
Japan lags behind Europe and the U.S. in this area, although a small number of hospitals have started the treatment on a trial basis. Increasing the use of this treatment may completely change cancer treatment in Japan.
Under the plan, the MHLW will give priority to certifying examination equipment that can investigate more than 100 types of genetic mutations at once and supporting its development, in order to make it available at hospitals and other medical institutions at an early date. This treatment will be covered by medical insurance to lighten the patients’ financial burden.
A new “information management center” to collect data from hospitals nationwide will also be created. This is expected to be operated by the National Cancer Center for long-term accumulation of genetic information, which is considered to be the most specific personal information available.