Opening Remarks by Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado
- Unofficial translation
The First-Ever Cancer Eradication Summit
at Pacifico Yokohama on June 9th, 2015
Today I am profoundly honored to have been invited to the First-ever Cancer Eradication Summit held in such a magnificent manner and to be with other distinguished guests, as well as all attendees. It is my great pleasure.
I have been told that in Japan, cancer is on the top list of the death rate, in which five out of ten of the Japanese people have contracted any cancer and one person out of three dies of the disease. We could assume cancer to be a disease affecting the whole nation, because it has been the leading cause of death among the Japanese since 1981. There are many cases in which late detection would lead to inopportune medical treatment and poor survival. It is because cancer could appear in any part of our body and has no obvious symptoms at first, or in the early stages. It means that even though cancer is fortunately diagnosed, it might be too late to be treated efficaciously. However, we would expect hopefully that early detection of the disease can lead to appropriate medical treatment and a full recovery.
The battle of human beings against cancer has an extraordinary history. We can find the first-ever cancer case in an ancient Egyptian medical book published in about 1500 B.C. According to the book, around 1400 BC, Hippocrates, an ancient Greek medical saint, used the Greek word of karkinos, which meant “crab”, in order to explain the likely symptoms of cancer unknown at that time. After hundreds of years, a Roman medical writer, Aulus Cornelius Celsus became the first user of the word of cancer by translating karkinos into Latin. In English, the word of cancer can still be used even now and “carcinosin”, which means a cancer-causing substance, is derived from the ancient Greek word of karkinos firstly used by Hippocrates.
Since we have had such a long history of the battle against cancer, it might definitely be an everlasting issue in medicine. And we, human beings, would be destined to tackle the disease forever. An increasing number of advanced technologies may be utilized in the treatment of cancer in the near future.
Whatever happens, under the circumstances where offense is the best defense and doing nothing is our defeat, I would like to put emphasis on the importance of our strong resolve to pursue the total destruction of cancer. I know Mr. Toshio Nakami, a writer and journalist, who has a close family member suffering from cancer, has been campaigning to call for action in order to tackle cancer and appealing to the public, “Let’s rise up for a fight against cancer as the whole nation!!”. His appeal has been widely accepted among a lot of people in a variety of fields as well as medical science field. I am not only very encouraged to hear that situation but also firmly believe that such an overall support to this initiative means a new challenge against cancer among the people will definitely get off to a good start. If many people who share this common goal and the same mind take some actions, I believe huge momentum would be gained in the campaign.
Among the objectives this summit tries to achieve, I think it is absolutely essential to rapidly create the best matching of cancer treatments utilizing a state-of-the-art technology with various conditions of each patient who need a treatment. While it should be no surprise that doctors should develop their abilities, I think it is quite more important for patients to enhance their abilities.
I do believe it is essential that Japanese medical services could provide useful and plain information on cancer, including advanced medicine and prominent doctors. And it is also important that measures to restructure a “medical-friendly society” should be taken, where patients can receive necessary medical services suitable for each individual. Such a medical-friendly society would be one where patients and their family members can make adequate medical decisions by themselves. The focal point of such a measure is to take patients’ and their families' perspective into consideration in case of providing suitable medical services. Isn’t it the essence of the Japanese medicine? I firmly believe in this way.
By the way, I have confidence in that medical treatments utilizing Internet and telemedicine could be a shining hope not only for the Japanese people but also for other nations or regions where sufficient medical-care services are never expected. In the past, having a broader point of view was usually required in medical field. However, now that by and large, medical science has developed its research and health care capabilities, specialist fields are becoming increasingly fractionalized. I think human beings are intrinsically social creatures and are provided with highly developed capabilities of communication. In that sense, I look forward to an epoch-making environment surrounding medicine in which everybody can get easy and quick access to a wide variety of medical opinions and exchange of views.
I sincerely hope that this academic First-ever Cancer Eradication Summit will be very fruitful and successful, and lead to scientific expansion and development in the future. And I earnestly wish that this summit will gain momentum as much as possible, when it comes to realizing a medical society with no cancer and no prejudice against those suffering from it.