Free Health Checkups for Heavy Smokers from Next Year

  • By Kim Sung-mo

    September 13, 2016 12:57

    People between the age of 55 and 74 who have smoked about one packet of cigarettes a day for three decades will be able to get free lung checkups from next year.

    An estimated 8,000 people fall into this category. Eligibility will gradually expand to cover all of high-risk smokers from 2019.

    The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Monday announced a comprehensive plan for cancer prevention and control for 2016-2020. It will focus on lung cancer first because it accounts for 22.8 percent of cancer deaths in Korea and has the second lowest five-year survival rate of 23.5 percent.

    The U.S. National Cancer Institute has found that early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer prolongs the life of high-risk smokers by an average of 10.6 years.

    The program, which will be overseen by the National Cancer Center, will require a budget of W2.9 billion for the first year (US$1=W1,116) The patients will be selected based on their willingness to participate or doctor's diagnoses in eight cancer centers across the country.

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