Cancer Hospital


Originally called Ritan Hospital, the Cancer Hospital at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS) was established in 1958. The Cancer Institute was launched in 1963 and subsequently established field prevention centers in the high-risk cancer areas of Linzhou in Henan Province, and Qidong in Jiangsu Province. In 1983, the hospital moved to the edge of Longtan Lake in the southeastern part of Beijing and officially changed its name to the Cancer Hospital. It is the first national hospital and remains the leading hospital among all cancer hospitals in China. It is also certified by the China Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a National Clinical Research Organization for Drugs and as the Cancer Quality Control Center of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC). The Cancer Hospital integrates medical care, education, research, and prevention to address all aspects of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

The clinical and technological departments of the Cancer Hospital cover a wide range of subject areas with technical sophistication, advanced equipment, and a superb medical environment. The numbers tell the story:

    1. Currently there are 15 clinical departments and nine medical technology departments that treat patients through radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, interventional therapy, biological therapy, and other methods. 

    2. The Cancer Hospital is the leading domestic center for the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of tumors, such as lung, liver, pancreatic, colorectal, breast, uterine, cervical, esophageal, head and neck, and malignant lymphoma.

    3. The Cancer Hospital has a high-energy two-photon medical linear accelerator, equipment for intensity-modulated radiation therapy, positron emission tomography-computed tomography, digital subtraction angiography, an automatic biochemical analyzer, nuclear magnetic resonance equipment, a tumor radiofrequency hyperthermia machine, an image-guided linear accelerator, flow cytometers, and other advanced equipment.

    4. It can serve 57,000 inpatients and 793,000 outpatients annually. Approximately 19,000 surgical operations were performed in 2015. 

    5. There are 2,114 employees, including 400 professors and associate professors, three academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and four academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The Cancer Hospital has strong research force with more than 20 laboratories of basic research, and links to the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Oncology and two Beijing Key Laboratories. The Cancer Hospital is one of the first state-level bases for continuing medical education and standardized training for resident doctors approved by NHFPC. It was selected by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) as the first bilateral joint development site for the study of cancer epidemiology for international students. It has teaching responsibility for doctoral degree students, Master’s degree students, overseas students, and in-service training--supplying a large proportion of talent to the national cancer prevention and treatment effort. The Cancer Hospital currently has four postdoctoral training programs, 10 doctoral degree programs with 66 advisors, and 12 Master's degree programs with 112 advisors. Since the Cancer Hospital was established, 769 Ph.D's and 1,003 Master's students have graduated, and 52 postdoctoral fellows and 6,220 in-service doctors have been trained there. A joint training program for international students was launched in 2008, which has trained 18 students.

The Cancer Hospital is linked to other institutions including the China National Cancer Center (NCC), the Oncology Clinicians Test Center of NHFPC, the China Cancer Research Foundation, the Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology (CSCO), as well as to the editorial offices of the Chinese Journal of Oncology, the Chinese Journal of Radiation Oncology, and Cancer Frontier. The hospital is undertaking studies of early diagnosis and treatment of cancers in urban areas, which incorporates the National Cancer Registry and the Huaihe River Basin Cancer Early Detection Project. The Cancer Hospital also holds the NCC Conference each year as a national opportunity for academic exchange. 

The Cancer Hospital participates actively in international medical exchange activities. It has established cooperative relationships with the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy, Egypt, Iran, Brunei, South Korea, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore, among other countries. The hospital has signed strategic cooperation agreements with the U.S National Cancer Institute of NIH, the Mayo Clinic, the Ronald Reagan University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, and UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.  

Research focus and progress

Cancer is the leading cause of death in China and therefore a major public health problem. Not only have cancer incidence and mortality increased significantly, but more young people are getting cancer. To improve the national cancer control system and mode of diagnosis and treatment, the CAMS Cancer Hospital conducts interdisciplinary research on cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, which includes basic medical research such as cancer epidemiology, molecular oncology, cellular genetics, and tumor etiology; clinical research such as pathology, imaging diagnosis, surgery, medical oncology, and radiation research; and innovative anti-cancer drug research and development. Some specific achievements in these areas are outlined below.

Cancer epidemiology studies

Using high-quality data from a number of population-based registries now available through the National Central Cancer Registry of China, studies indicate that in 2012 there were 3,586,000 new cancer cases and 2,187,000 cancer deaths in China, with lung cancer being the most common and the primary cause of cancer death. Stomach, esophageal, and liver cancers were also commonly diagnosed and identified as leading causes of cancer death. Residents of rural areas had significantly higher age-standardized incidence and mortality rates for all cancers than urban residents. For all cancers combined, incidence rates for males were stable from 2000 through 2011, whereas these rates increased significantly among females. In contrast, the mortality rates since 2006 have decreased significantly for both males (−1.4% per year; P<0.05) and females (−1.1% per year; P<0.05). Many of the estimated cancer cases and deaths can be prevented by reducing risk factors, while increasing the effectiveness of clinical care delivery, particularly for those living in rural areas and in disadvantaged populations.

Early diagnosis and prevention of cancer

The scientists at the Cancer Hospital are making significant advances in early cancer diagnosis and prevention. A long-term cohort study focused on the effect of endoscopic screening and intervention programs on the incidence and mortality of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). It showed that endoscopy with iodine-stain screening and index biopsy methods, combined with early treatment of precancerous lesions and early stage tumors, significantly reduced ESCC mortality. Detection and treatment of preneoplastic lesions also led to a reduction in the incidence of this highly fatal cancer in high-risk areas in China. A pooled analysis of a self-sampling human papilloma virus (HPV) DNA test showed that the sensitivity of self-HPV testing compared favorably with that of liquid-based cytology and was superior to the sensitivity of visual inspection enhanced with acetic acid application. Self-HPV testing may complement current screening programs by increasing population coverage, especially in locations without easy access to comprehensive cytology-based screening. It will also provide the most viable primary screening option to improve the effectiveness of screening, particularly in low-resource settings. A population-based, cluster, randomized, controlled trial of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination conducted in Qidong demonstrated that neonatal HBV vaccination significantly decreased the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroprevalence in childhood through young adulthood, and subsequently reduced the risk of primary liver cancer and other liver diseases in young adults in rural China. It is the first vaccine to dramatically reduce the risk of a cancer. This work also suggests that an adolescence booster should be considered in individuals born to HBsAg-positive mothers and who have completed the HBV neonatal vaccination series.