HEALTHY LYF: Detecting Cancer Early With The Medical City

Cancer is no easy illness, and the cure for it is still undetermined even with the technology that we have. And with various types of cancers that can affect a person, one cannot say what can work to cure them, and research are still on their testing stages. Definitely, prevention and early detection would be the best cure.

One of the most common cancers today is Colorectal and Lung Cancer. Both of them are known to have fatal effects and treatment for late stages is highly expensive and painful, literally and financially. Since both of them may show up symptoms, some may not notice them and would not seek professional help as self-medication is done by most of patients.

Medical City now offers early diagnosis of these two types that will save a lot of lives with their programs that involves using their programs, and technology to provide accurate and comprehensive testing, detection and  treatment.

Early diagnosis, treatment best prevention for colorectal, lung cancers
The Medical City offers comprehensive diagnosis, treatment modalities for colorectal, lung cancers

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for its successful treatment. Recognizing the warning signs of cancer and taking prompt consultation usually leads to early diagnosis and treatment. Providing health professionals and the public with an awareness of the early signs of cancer will have a great impact in addressing the illness. In fact, early diagnosis is relevant to specific types of cancer, namely those affecting the breast, cervix, mouth, larynx, colon and rectum, lung and skin.

Cancer Research UK, a leading global charity dedicated to beating cancer through research, says the early diagnosis of cancer means it can be easily removed or treated. The late diagnosis of cancer makes treatment difficult and lowers a person’s chances of surviving the illness. It estimates that as much as 10,000 deaths from cancer could be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment.

The Philippine Cancer Society lists lung cancer as the leading cause of deaths from cancer in the country. In 2010, a total of 11,458 cases were reported, while there were 9,184 deaths. Colorectal cancer, on the other hand, ranks no.4 in terms of cancer deaths. In the same year, 5,787 cases were recorded, while deaths due to colorectal cancer reached 3,060 cases.

The Medical City Cancer Program

The Medical City (TMC) Cancer Program, organized in 2006, adopts a unique multidisciplinary team approach to cancer prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and management. It applies innovative molecular technologies in diagnosis and treatment for a truly customized and personalized care.

With a full appreciation that no two individuals are alike, regardless of similarities between two patients diagnosed with the same type of cancer, TMC Cancer Program applies an individualized approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment based on the patient’s profile and history.

With this, a personalized treatment plan according to the profile and preferences of the patient is developed by a multidisciplinary team. The highly trained medical team includes cancer specialists, nurses and other specialized health care professionals. Family members are also an important part of this. Central to everyone, the focus of our cancer program is the patient.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is among the top five most common cancers in the country today. Recent studies showed that the Philippines has a higher colorectal cancer mortality compared to other countries. Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in either the colon or the rectum. 

Colorectal cancer ranks fourth among cancer-related deaths in Filipinos. According to the Philippine Cancer Society, Inc., almost 75 percent of the individuals affected were aged 50 and above, while only about three percent were children 14 years old and below. It is estimated that one out of 1,800 Filipinos will develop the cancer yearly.

Dr. Ramy Roxas, head of TMC’s Colorectal Clinic, says, “With good screening and early diagnosis, 90 percent of colorectal cancers are curable."

Early screening and a multi-modality treatment such as chemotherapy, pre-operative radiotherapy and surgery are among the factors responsible for improving colorectal cancer outcomes.

TMC’s Colorectal Clinic offers cancer-screening tests, including FOBT, diagnostic and therapeutic flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. “Colonoscopy is one of the most unloved cancer tests, but it can save lives. It is the most accurate test for colorectal cancer,” says Dr. Roxas.

He explains a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is recommended for everyone aged 50 and above. This test should be done every year after age 50. The other alternative is to undergo colonoscopy every five to 10 years. Those with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or those with two or more family members who had the disease should be screened earlier, ideally 10 years before the age of diagnosis of their relatives with colorectal cancer.

In fact, the WHO says research on the efficacy of FOBT for screening saw a reduction of up to 20 percent in colorectal cancer mortality from biennial screening, and a greater reduction as a result of annual screening.

TMC’s Colorectal Clinic provides expert diagnoses and multimodality treatments for colorectal cancer, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. The clinic promotes minimally invasive procedures for early cases, as well as radical operations for advanced and recurrent cases. Laparoscopic surgery, trans-anal endoscopic microsurgery, and robotic-assisted surgery are among the minimally invasive procedures being offered by the clinic.

Among all private hospitals in the Philippines, TMC’s Colorectal Clinic has performed the greatest number of preoperative chemo-radiotherapy for rectal cancers and minimally invasive laparoscopic colorectal cancer procedures, including robotic surgery. It also boasts the greatest number of patients in a private hospital setting with complete pathologic response following neoadjuvant chemo-radiotherapy for rectal cancer, and the highest anal sphincter.

TMC’s Colorectal Clinic also caters to patients with anorectal diseases, such as hemorrhoids, perianal infection, fistula, fissures, and fecal incontinence to name a few. It offers various treatment options for hemorrhoids, such as rubber band ligation, transanal hemorrhoidal dearterialization (THD), and stapled hemorrhoidectomy, which are proven to be less painful procedures than traditional surgery. 

The Medical City’s Colorectal Clinic is managed by a nationally renowned team of board-certified experts. It is located at the second floor of the Nursing Tower. For details, call 988-1000 or 988-7000 ext. 6214.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide in both men and women, with more than one million deaths recorded annually. However, most cases are detected during their advanced stages when patients are already symptomatic, and their chances of survival are very low.

TMC has a Lung Cancer Program that aims to detect the disease early in high-risk individuals and to provide optimal options for management of both early and advanced stages.

Among the latest options TMC uses for screening lung cancer is the Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS), a state of the art minimally invasive procedure used in the diagnosis of lung cancer, infections, and other inflammatory diseases in the chest. Presently, TMC is the first and currently the only hospital in the country to offer EBUS.

“With EBUS as an additional diagnostic option for high-risk patients, we are expecting to increase detection rates of early stage lung cancer, which may be salvageable by surgery and has good prognosis. In addition, EBUS can aid in the diagnosis of benign diseases that need specific pathologic confirmation,” says Dr. Christine Chavez, interventional pulmonologist and head of the Lung Unit of TMC Center for Cancer Care and Research. 

EBUS assists patients and doctors by shortening the time from diagnosis to treatment. EBUS is a procedure that incorporates ultrasound technology in bronchoscopy. By means of a small video device, it allows bronchoscopists to view lung abnormalities through and beyond the surface of the airways for real-time image guidance during procedures; hence, higher degree of diagnostic accuracy and safety is possible.

With real-time imaging and ultrasound guidance, doctors can map, evaluate, and safely biopsy tumors and lymph nodes. This procedure is called EBUS-transbronchial needle aspiration, or EBUS-TBNA, which results in accurate diagnosis and staging of the lung cancer and detection of other causes of pulmonary mass such as tuberculosis, sarcoidosis and lymphoma.

Among the medical professionals leading the TMC Cancer Center are:
Dr. Daniel Alonzo, TMC Cancer Center head;
Dr. Christine Chavez, Lung Cancer Program head; and,
Dr. Ramy Roxas, Colorectal Clinic head. 

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