Cell based Immunotherapy (Autologous immune enhancement therapy) has been more frequently practised in Japan.Techniques to harvest the cells are extremely intricate and delicate processes. For the treatments to be rountinely available to the cancer patients apart from the clinical trials, advanced engineering cell reprocessing center must be available with good corroboration with the hospitals.
Since Japan made the Immuno-Cell Therapy to be a part of health care systems, the cell processing centers (CPCs) rapidly increased in the past decades. For the therapy of high complexity such as dendritic cell / autologous enhancement immunotherapy to be regularly practiced in the hospital, those CPCs were essential, and this explains why much of innovations in cell based cancer immunotherapy took place in Japan.
Both EMR and ESD was originally developed in Japan. EMR / ESD (endoscopic biopsy or polyp resection procedure on gastrointestinal tract) is the area that Japanese surgeons are leading the research at forefront. It is the minimally invasive endoscopic procedure that conserves organs / tissues, and patients can be discharged from the hospital in the same day or a week after the operations. It is usually applicable to early stage cancer / tumor, and improves the post-surgical health conditions such as loss of appetite, fever, chills, pains and life-long medication.
Currently there are about 31 proton (or carbon ion) therapy facilities in the world, 8 of which is built in Japan. Proton Beam Therapy is much less invasive than other radiotherapy treatments, and can treat the cancer without incision of the body, and with much less side effects than X-ray treatments. Japan has invested in Proton beam therapy (PBT) / Carbon Ion Therapy infrastructure for a long time, and clinical level studies are numerous and thus well experienced with all kinds of localized tumors.
Japan has been leading the RFA intervention technology for a long time, and the yearly number of RFA interventions in Japan currently exceeds that of United States and China. (See the Table below.) Survival rates for the patients undergoing the RFA are not different from those of surgery. But the surgery is harder to be operated multiple times, whereas the RFA is not restricted by the number of interventions or by the presence of Hepatitis. For this reason, RFA becomes a standard treatment in Japan.
|Yearly volume of RFA on Liver Cancer
Table: Yearly number of Radiofrequency ablation of Liver or hepatic tumors by country.
Recent technological advances in cell sheets engineering extended to the pre-clinical trial of the treatment of heart disease patients often in need for the heart transplant.
In japan, complex operations towards varicose veins below the knee are established with safey and high response rates. Various catheter and micro-catheter devices are extensively used, and some of them are only available in Japan.
Medical technology in Japan for cancer screening and gastrointestinal diseases are known to be very strong, supported by good clinical statistics, i.e., high five year survival rate after the surgery (or radiology / chemotherapy) among the colon, rectal, stomach, and esophageal cancer patients as well as liver, lung, and larynx cancer (See Table below).
Since Japanese health agency is notoriously slow and counter-productive when it comes to the approval of new drugs, Japan's hospitals and patients suffered for so long by the technology lag from the rest of the world. Ironically, these regulatory problems lead physicians to the innovations in the fields other than drug discoveries, i.e., in the surgical / laparoscopic, endoscopic, micro-catheter procedures, cell based immunotherapy / vaccinations, radiation (carbon ion and proton beam), and regenerative medicine (iPS cells, cell sheets).
Since the Japanese physicians had less options in chemotherapy, they had more opportunities in experiencing difficult surgeries, and tried the new treatments due to the low availability of new drugs. Thus, many exotic and unique medical technologies emerged out of the isolations casued by the incompetence of Japanese health agency.
|Site (Survival Rate: %)
7 Cancer Registrates in Japan
|US SEER Program