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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dr. Mark Pegram Leads Breast Cancer Symposium at AHMC-Asian Cancer Institute


Wazzup Pilipinas!

A few of my relatives and friends died because of the big C which we all know as cancer. Unfortunately, no one among them survived from the disease even after so many treatments. Some of them refused to spend so much, thinking it will only leave their loved ones in debt due to the very expensive series of treatments that need to be undertaken. They believed the treatments were no longer curing them but only prolonging their agony. Many have succumbed to desperation after hearing they are at a stage when cure is no longer possible. It is so sad that the disease was not detected at an earlier stage.

Since majority of the people in the Philippines are poor or mid-income employees, it was not surprising to learn that our country has the biggest case of breast cancer as reported by the Philippines Society of Medical Oncology. There have been so many deaths due to cancer. Last year's estimates by the WHO were 28, 700 males and 27, 900 females. The men are more susceptible to lung, liver and colorectal cancer, while women suffer with breast, colorectal and lung as the most fatal.

Tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity are the major factors that can heighten the chances of getting cancer, as well as other diseases. I really believe we should start living a healthy lifestyle before its too late.

We recently got an invitation to attend the Asian Hospital and Medical Center-Asian Cancer Institute’s (AHMC-ACI) first multidisciplinary scientific symposium on breast cancer entitled “Optimizing Outcomes in Neoadjuvant Breast Cancer Management”. The symposium was held on July 11, 2015 (Saturday) from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center (AHMC) located in Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

The Asian Cancer Institute, the country’s first one-stop, integrated, multidisciplinary cancer prevention and management facility of the Asian Hospital, has teamed up, for the first time, with one of the leading pharmaceutical organizations in the country, as well as, with a renowned clinician and scholar in breast cancer research and a leader in translational medicine, Dr. Mark Daniel Pegram, to present case studies on getting the best outcomes in breast cancer management through Neoadjuvant Therapy.

Dr. Pegram is the first director of the Breast Cancer Oncology Program at Stanford Women’s Cancer Center and co-director of Stanford’s Molecular Therapeutics Program. He also played a major role in developing the drug Herceptin as a treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer, which constitutes about 20 percent of all cases.

There was initially a meet and greet with Dr. Mark Pegram, as well as some consultation of cases, at the Asian Cancer Institute's Conquer C Center at Tower 2. It was followed by the symposium with further consultations and Q&A at the Conference Facility Unit at Tower 1.

The talks were highly technical and full of medical terms that it was pure nosebleed for me. But I am happy to be seeing specialists collaborate and eager to find solutions to enigmatic medical cases especially about Cancer which continues to be regarded as one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer diagnosis will rise to 70 percent in the next two decades. This translates to more deaths where the most affected are from the world's poorest populations like Asia, Africa and South America.

To improve and transform cancer care and management here in the country, AHMC will be launching the Asian Cancer Institute (ACI) this July 23, 2015. The aim of the institute is to provide modern services and world-class scientific solutions, research and treatment for cancer patients.

Dr. Corazon Ngelangel, Director of ACI, said it is an integrated and multidisciplinary team approach to cancer care because all disciplines and services - from preventive oncology to end-of-life care - will be housed at ACI.

Two heads are better than one. What if there were actually more than two? The multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment and care is the most important facet of ACI.  This allows a team of experts to be able to sit down and discuss every patient's case to make sure that the diagnosis is correct, and all possible modes of treatment are laid out to a patient. All of this will be happening at first diagnosis. There would be no need for second opinions as you will be able to consult with many doctors of different specialties.

ACI would also be offering  a healing environment that comforts and heals the patient's body and spirit. Thus, support groups for psychological and spiritual advice will be available to both patient and family members.

ACI houses four different but integrated centers of excellence: the Emmanuel Center which provides the screening, diagnosis, and surgical care, the Conquer C Center which includes oncologists with specialized expertise in radiation therapy, nuclear oncology and interventional oncology, the Chrys Center 1 which provides Medical-Hematology-Pediatric oncology services, and Chrys Center 2 which provides high quality integrative, supportive and palliative care services.

Thank you for the invitation to be a part of this symposium. We all need to promote such programs and initiatives especially in our country where cancer is a dreaded and demoralizing disease that everyone is afraid of. Many tend to lose hope and interest in living after hearing that they are positive with cancer.

I am leaning towards the more optimistic side and believing that all these effort and further collaboration with the bright minds of Medicine will take us to a more hopeful future for the treatment of cancer. We need more people like Dr. Mark Pegram, along with the other specialists at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center-Asian Cancer Institute, to lead us towards a brighter future. With so many advances in science and technology, I am positive that there will soon be a more definite cure for the big C.

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