The Department of Health has emphasized the importance of regular self-breast exam and the critical role of screening in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer among women.
In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with this year’s theme, “United We Fight,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III noted that early detection of any changes in the breast and seeking immediate consultation would increase one’s chances of successful treatment.
“We urge women to regularly do self-breast examination and immediately visit the nearest health center should she (sic) notice any cause for concern,” said Duque.
He said health care professionals had the confidence to perform breast screening.
“For those who are already diagnosed with the disease, we encourage you to get treated at the DOH hospitals and receive holistic care through advocacy groups,” said Duque.
A breast self-examination is a method to detect any noticeable changes in one’s breast.
Based on the 2015 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates, breast cancer is the most common (20,267 cases) and the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related deaths (7,384 cases) among the Filipinos, next to lung and liver cancer.
As part of the response to this public health concern, the DOH established the Breast Cancer Medicines Access Program in 2011 in seven access sites, namely:
Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center; (2) East Avenue Medical Center; (3) Rizal Medical Center; (4) Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center;
(5) Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital; and (7) Philippine General Hospital. From 2011 to 2017, more than 4,000 patients with breast cancer were given free cancer drugs under the program.
This year, access to breast cancer medicines will be expanded to include the following health institutions: (1) National Kidney and Transplant Institute; (2) Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center; (3) Region 1 Medical Center; (4) Bicol Medical Center; (5) Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center; (6) Zamboanga City Medical Center; and, (7) Southern Philippines Medical Center.
In line with this, the DOH conducted a forum to increase breast cancer awareness through education on self-breast cancer screening, lectures from esteemed societies and conduct of mass screening.
Different groups and patient partners were enjoined to attend to foster camaraderie and teamwork among various stakeholders.