Home Editors' Picks With targeted treatments, cancer is no longer a death sentence

With targeted treatments, cancer is no longer a death sentence

BECAUSE OF advances in cancer therapy and prevention efforts, patients have a higher chance of surviving cancer and living a full life as a cancer survivor.   

“Today, we don’t treat cancer as a deadly disease, but as a chronic disease we can treat,” said Dr. Maria Luisa Abesamis-Tiambeng, chairman of Cardinal Santos Medical Center’s Cancer Institute, in an Oct. 14 webinar.  

Treatments can target cancer cells without affecting healthy ones. Radiation therapy uses beams of intense energy from a machine aimed at precise points on a patient’s body.  

In radiotherapy, high energy beams target only the tumor, Dr. Pauline Anne P. Cauton added, a medical oncologist and consultant at the same institute.   

Other modes of cancer treatment include surgery, chemotherapy (which uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells), targeted therapy (which uses drugs that targets the proteins that drive cancer growth), and immunotherapy (which uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases).   

“Surgery is the definitive treatment for certain types of cancer,” Dr. Cauton told the webinar audience. “If kaya tanggalin, gusto natin tanggalin [If the cancer can be removed, then we remove it].” She added that the three considerations for getting treatment is determining what type of cancer is present, where in the body is at present, and if an individual’s body can handle which treatment.  

Different kinds of cancers require different treatments. Dr. Cauton cautioned against comparing one’s cancer with that of a neighbor.  “Even if both of you have the same type of cancer, the approach will still be different,” she said.   

Given the gravity of a cancer diagnosis, support mechanisms are also an important part to cope with the emotional impact of the disease. Local groups that offer this support include East Avenue Medical Center’s Breast Friends, St. Luke’s Medical Center’s Corridor of Hope, and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute’s Cancer Support Group.  

Dr. Tiambeng said that, apart from its own cancer support group, Cardinal Santos Medical Center additionally has a shop for the purchase of wigs, prosthetic bras, lymphedema stockings, and other items that offer comfort and normalcy to survivors.  

Lymphedema, or swelling in the arms and legs that occurs when lymph nodes are damaged, is a complication of breast cancer treatment. Radiation therapy that removes lymph nodes under the breast cancer patient’s arm can cause scarring, which in turn affects the drainage of fluids from the body.   

Dr. Tiambeng also acknowledged the role finances play in cancer treatment, even as she mentioned options for financial assistance, among these the National Government’s Malasakit Centers.  

“Do not give up if you think you have no money to support your treatment,” she said. “Be honest about the hindrances you might have, and we will be ready to help.”  

Cancer was the third-leading cause of death in the country from January to June 2021, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority. — Patricia B. Mirasol 


Avon to host simultaneous breast self-check 


BEAUTY BRAND Avon will hold The Boobment, a simultaneous breast self-check on Oct. 21 at the Avon Philippines Facebook page at 6 p.m.  

The Boobment aims to encourage Filipinos to do regular checkups through a simple routine that women can do every month.  

According to the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, the Philippines has the highest number of breast cancer diagnoses among Asian countries, with three out of 100 Filipinos developing the disease before they reach the age of 75.  

Early detection of the symptoms is one of the best ways to prevent and treat breast cancer. Survival rate increases to 90% if detected early. 

“It is very important that we let everyone know that this disease can be addressed early, especially when you do self-checking right at home,” said Marion Limlengco, Avon Philippines head of communications. 

Through The Boobment, Avon seeks to raise funds on behalf of the Philippine Cancer Society and Breast Cancer patients. The public may either donate via GCash QR code or through the purchase of limited-edition fundraising items at the Avon Shop.  

Avon also partnered with KonsultaMD, a subscription-based telehealth service, to provide an alternative avenue of consultation for those who might detect symptoms of breast cancer. 

For more information, visit avon.ph. October is breast cancer awareness month.