One of Japan's top gastroenterologists is touring San Antonio's leading cancer research and treatment facility, to get some insight on therapies for people in Japan, who are increasingly drawn to American fast food and other western activities which increase the likelihood of cancer, 1200 WOAI's Berit Mason reports.
"We always eat American food, so these days gastric cancer and colon cancer is increasing in Japan," said Dr. Shunichiro Fujiyama of Japan's Saiseikai Kumamoto Hospital in San Antonio's sister city of Kumamoto.
Dr. Fujiyama toured South Texas Oncology and Hematology, which is the region's leading facility in the treatment and research into cancer.
Dr. Fujiyama says one thing different about American cancer treatment is in Japan, the doctor makes all the decision.
"Patients in America have their own opinions, so the patients say 'I choose' chemotherapy, or a 'I don't choose' chemotherapy," he said.
He says another barrier standing between the patient and doctor in Japan is the traditional Japanese sense of politeness, which often forbids a person from giving another bad news.
"But here, the doctor tells the patient, you have the cancer, directly," he marveled.
The Japanese physician was hosted by Dr. Murali Beeram, medical oncologist and clinical investigator at STOH. Dr. Beeram says the Japanese are preparing to take advantage of advanced cancer drugs which are currently in clinical trials at the San Antonio facility.
"Drugs that alleviate pain, alleviate symptoms, even have some impact on the prognosis of survival," Dr. Beeram said.
He said drugs which can replace chemotherapy, with all its unpleasant side effects, will be available in the coming ten to fifteen years, many of them undergoing Phase One clinical trials at STOH.
But Dr. Fujiama says one factor is pushing his nation's growth in cancer cases.
"Our change of lifestyle," he said.