March 4, 2024

One of Baguio’s leading oncologists and hematologists stressed the importance of undergoing early detection and screening in the prevention and treatment of breast and other types of cancers.

In a media forum, Oct. 11, at City Hall, Dr. Jasmin Igama said according to the Global Cancer (Globocan) Statistics 2020 report, breast cancer has surpassed lung, colon, and liver as the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer worldwide.

October is known internationally as Breast Cancer Awareness Month which is also observed in the country.

“In my practice, it is very difficult to convince people to have breast cancer screening even if they have a family history of the disease. Around 65 percent of breast cancer patients would come to us very late and are already in the advanced stages,” Igama said.

She said many would have been saved from breast cancer if only they were detected at the very early stages since there are presently numerous options for treatment, prevention and screening.

Igama urged the city government to establish its own cancer screening and surveillance apparatus since the cancer treatment facility at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center is “almost overwhelmed” at times due to the deluge of local patients and those from outside the city.

She said in 2019, the National Integrated Cancer Control Act was passed to strengthen cancer control in the country, increase cancer survivorship, and reduce burden on families and cancer patients.

“We need more assistance and cooperation from the city government. Maybe it can fund a cancer screening clinic just for Baguio residents and we can train barangay health workers to help in mitigating the situation,” Igama said.

Dr. Donnabel Panes, medical officer IV of the City Health Services Office and City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit chief, echoed Igama’s statement that early detection is crucial in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer and other diseases, for that matter.

“The adages health is wealth and prevention is better than cure are very true,” she said.

Earlier, CHSO OIC head Celia Flor Brillantes said there are an estimated 27,163 new cases each year making breast cancer the most common type of cancer among Filipinos.

She said while many successfully undergo treatment, around 27 Filipinos still succumb to breast cancer daily or about 9,926, every year. – Gaby B. Keith