Text and images by CEDIE SALIDO
It is disheartening to know that cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 9.6 million people died of cancer that year alone. The more concerning part is that 80,000 of these mortalities happened in the Philippines.
Cancer is a normal cell tissue that transforms to tumor cells in a multistage process that generally progresses from a pre-cancerous lesion to a malignant tumor. In a recent study by the Department of Health (DOH), breast cancer is highlighted as the number one type of cancer in the country, followed by lung and colorectal cancer.
Last week, the Manila Doctors Hospital proudly introduced a new technology that is now available at its Cancer Institute, giving patients hope to fight back against cancer. Dr. Teresa T. Sy Ortin, head of the Radiation-Oncology department, explained that there are three ways to treat cancer at present. First is through surgery. Another is chemotherapy, which uses strong drug dosages to kill cancer cells. And lastly, there’s radiation therapy, which relies on ionizing radiation to kill malignant cells.
All of these are available at the Manila Doctors Hospital, which prides itself as a multidisciplinary hospital that provides specialized cancer treatments. Through a partnership with Siemens Healthineers, the hospital now has a new Linear Accelerator (LINAC) and can now perform Brachytherapy. LINAC uses external beam radiation to treat cancer, while Brachytherapy involves placing radioactive material inside a cancer patient’s body.
“This is a breakthrough that enables us to offer a wider spectrum of advanced radiotherapy treatment options to more patients. It represents a big step forward in our ability to help people fight cancer,” said Dr. Sy Ortin.
She added that the accuracy of this new sophisticated machine makes synchronization easier—from imaging and patient positioning to beam shaping and on-point delivery of dosage. This kind of approach lessens the risks of damaging good cells during treatment. And because it is more efficient, it results in shorter treatment times for patients.
“May our fight toward cancer prevention be as rigorous as our effort in treating cancer,” said DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque, who was present at the unveiling of the new treatments. “I am positive in saving every Filipino from cancer ensuring our healthy future for all.”
Manila Doctors Hospital director Dr. Hia Ho N Kua emphasized how crucial early detection and education are in cancer prevention and cure. He also reminded those present about the importance of not losing hope when faced with cancer. “Cancer is not the end of the road,” he said. “It is just a bend.”