October marked the breast cancer awareness month with numerous events held to help spread awareness about the illness which, according to data, afflicts one in every 13 Filipino women, making it the most prevalent type of cancer in the country. In fact, the Philippines is ranked the number one country in Asia with the highest incidence of breast cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, “the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked in countries across the world every October, helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease. Currently there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, therefore, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.”
Numerous organizations and health establishments helped spread awareness about breast cancer, among them Makati Medical Center that held a film showing organized by the Breast Clinic, and a breast cancer lay forum, medical symposium and research forum organized by the Cancer Center and the Philippine Breast Cancer Society (PBCS).
The Breast Clinic held “Pink Theater,” a free showing of Decoding Annie Parker that is based on the life of breast cancer survivor Annie Parker, whose mother and sister died of the same type of cancer, and the story of Dr. Mary-Claire King who in 1990 found evidence of a genetic link in breast cancer. The Breast Clinic, which offers comprehensive diagnostic modalities that can help detect early stages of breast cancer, is headed by Dr. Fay A. Coloma.
The Cancer Center, on the other hand, held a lay forum “Breast Cancer & Survivorship”, which focused on how breast cancer patients can cope with stress brought by the disease and cancer treatment. The topics included “Rehab After Breast Cancer Surgery” by Dr. Melissa Zamuco-Mercado; “Anxiety, Depression and Fatigue” by Dr. Jose Victor Cruz; “Role of the Oncology Nurse in the Immediate and Long-Term Care of a Cancer Patient” by Edelaida Garcia, RN; and “Nutrition, Lifestyle and Well-being” by Dr. Ma. Lourdes Gozali. A full-day Basic and Advanced Breast Ultrasound Workshop, headed by course director Dr. Alex Tan from the PBCS, was also conducted.
Finally, the Cancer Center and the PBCS also held the 6th Breast Cancer Symposium and 5th Research Forum, featuring scientific sessions focused on the disease, with course directors Dr. Kathleen Baldivia, Dr. Victor Gozali, who is also head of the Cancer Center. Dr. Teresa Sy-Ortin, Radiology Consultant at MakatiMed, serves as President of the PBCS, a national organization made up of multispecialty medical professionals who are committed to help in the fight against breast cancer. Certainly, efforts to spread awareness should not start or end with during breast cancer awareness month – it should be a year long initiative with everyone participating.