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Sunday, Jan. 14, 2007

Channel surf

Cancer is still one of the most common causes of death in Japan, but a cancer diagnosis is no longer an automatic death sentence. Medical advances have made early stage detection easier and new medicines and surgical procedures have raised survival chances considerably.

The main guest on this week's installment of TV Tokyo's medical variety show, "The Clinic Where You Can Find Your Own Doctor" (Monday, 7 p.m.) is actress Mayumi Ozora, who has had cancer four times. She has had stomach cancer twice, and well as cancer of the breast and esophagus. However, she only had to undergo major surgery for the breast cancer.

Ozora is now completely cancer-free. She discusses her experience and her attitude in detail. To her cancer has become something that she lives with, not something she fears.

Further on in the frontiers of medicine, this week NHK's lifestyle study program "Tameshite Gatten (Trial and Success)" (NHK-G, Wednesday, 8 p.m.) looks at advances in the treatment of headaches. Though headaches don't become more frequent in the winter, they do tend to become more intense. It is estimated that one-fourth of Japanese people suffer from chronic headaches, and most people simply take over-the-counter medicines to relieve the pain, but the program shows other means of dealing with the problem.

There are many different kinds of headaches, and understanding the kind that affects you is important to figuring out how to prevent them before they occur.

More information about health, albeit in dramatic form, can be found on this week's "Friday Prestige" (Fuji, Friday, 9 p.m.), which adapts the true story of Dr. Kikuko Yamada, an orthopedic physician who had three strokes in succession.

Dr. Yamada was stricken with what is called higher brain dysfunction as a result of the strokes. Such a malady has far reaching effects. It can even alter personality and behavior patterns. Memories can be erased as well.

In the dramatization, Dr. Yamada (Nene Otsuka) has just taken over her parents' clinic when she suffers a stroke. Having inherited her father's cheerful disposition, she is distressed by her darker moods. Her recovery is long and painful, but she endeavors to study her feelings as objectively as possible so that she can someday help others with the malady. She goes through rehabilitation and eventually writes a book about her experiences.

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