Awareness Forum Empowers Women to Prevent and Control Breast, Cervical Cancer

(From L to R): PHO staff Ms. Janette Paglinawan, Dr. Sharon Lilly Valdez, Dr. Joy Sanico, Dr. Gaye Emerald Oribello, Dr. Joan Reyes, and Nutritionist Ms. Eleonor Burgos

DAVAO ORIENTAL – Early detection and lifestyle modification are among the most effective measures to tackle the silent killer disease – cancer.

During the recent Cancer Awareness Lay Forum which was held in observance of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, medical experts from the region have shared to Capitol employees and health professionals, who were participants in the forum, salient information on two of the most common cancers among women – breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Dr. Sharon Lilly Valdez, Regional Cluster Head on Non-Communicable Diseases and Prevention of the Department of Health

Dr. Sharon Lilly Valdez, Regional Cluster Head on Non-Communicable Diseases and Prevention revealed that based on the 2015 data of the Philippine Health Statistics, breast cancer has been ranked as number one cause of cancer deaths among women in the Philippines. In Davao Region, she said, breast cancer still ranks number one in the top causes of mortality among women while cancer in the genital organ which includes cervical cancer ranks second.

She said there is an increasing trend of women getting the disease over the recent years. She listed tobacco use, unhealthy diet and lifestyle, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol as the major risk factors for cancers that can aggravate non-modifiable risk factors.

Dr. Joy Sanico, Provincial Health Officer I and Head of the Public Health Division

Dr. Joy Sanico, Provincial Health Officer I and Head of the Public Health Division, stressed the importance of reproductive health information for women and access to health facilities for early detection, particularly in rural areas. She said the conduct of the awareness forum on breast and cervical cancer here aims to educate participants and to urge them to advocate for the prevention and early detection of these types of cancers.

In tackling breast cancer, Dr. Joan Reyes, Breast Cancer Surgeon from Davao Doctor’s Hospital, emphasized control over the modifiable risk factors such as lifestyle in order to reduce the risk of getting the disease amidst the non-modifiable risk factors for breast cancer such as age and family history.

Dr. Joan Reyes, Breast Cancer Surgeon from Davao Doctor’s Hospital

Patients detected at an early stage have an increased chance of survival. She said early detection is possible through readily accessible screening tests and procedures such as breast exam (clinical and self), imaging tests, and biopsy as a diagnostic procedure for women who are already suspected of having breast cancer.

Breast cancer, she explains, develops when there is an overexposure to the hormone estrogen and underexposure to progesterone leading to the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells that eventually form a lump or mass called tumor. Spreading mainly through the lymphatic system, these cells can metastasize and invade and damage normal tissues.

Meanwhile, the growing cases of cervical cancer have also been causing a lot of concern in public health.  Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is transmitted through sexual intercourse.

While the incidence rate for cervical cancer starts rising steeply at the age of 30, the government has pursued HPV vaccination among girls as young as nine years old in the effort to reduce deaths from cervical cancer as its incidence is steadily on the rise, particularly among the younger female population who engage in sexual activity at a young age.

Dr. Gaye Emerald Oribello, Ob-Gyn Consultant from San Pedro Medical Center

Like breast cancer, early detection is essential for the prompt treatment of cervical cancer, explains Dr. Gaye Emerald Oribello, Ob-Gyn Consultant from San Pedro Medical Center. Currently, the Department of Health conducts cancer screening programs readily available for the public in health centers. These diagnostic procedures for cervical cancer are the Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) and Papanicolaou test commonly known as papsmear. For advanced stages, biopsy is identified as the most reliable diagnostic procedure.

Nutritionist Eleonor Burgos from Davao Riverside Medical Center.

A devastating disease, cancer not only causes physical and mental distress but also leads to deep financial exhaustion among patients and their family. In order to save lives, the government is keen at empowering people in terms of prevention through education. Nutritionist Eleonor Burgos underscored that adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle choices, as well as the prevention of stress, are still the most effective measures in preventing cancers. By Karen Lou Deloso

 

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