There is hope for breast cancer patients. The latest drug innovations for breast cancer treatment have proven effective for several cancer patients whose cases were presented during the first-ever Breast Cancer Summit held recently at the Edsa Shangri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City.
The summit—organized by Roche Philippines Inc. and the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO)—featured case discussions by Dr. Christian Jackisch, Dr. Eugene Regala, Dr. Noemi Uy and Dr. Josephine Contreras-Tolentino of breast cancer patients who have undergone medical treatments, surgical operations, therapies, and who have taken innovative cancer drugs prescribed by their doctors, after being diagnosed with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2+) breast cancer. Some of these patients are under the Roche Access Program, which provides financial assistance.
Of this, Dr. Jose S. Garcia Jr., MD, FPCP, FPSMO, president of PSMO, wrote in his welcome remarks, “The summit aims to bring both science and patient to the fore, realizing that it is through understanding both the patient journey and the science that produces the health outcomes, we will obtain our objective of raising the bar of breast cancer management.”
Present in the summit were local and international distinguished speakers, doctors, and fellows from the field of oncology. The discussions by Dr. Christian Jackisch and Dr. Eugene Moylan provided the latest, evidence-based information on breast cancer treatment with HER2 blockade.
Among the Summit highlights was also a discussion of Dr. Dennis Tudtud and his 71-year old patient, a school teacher and catechist from Cebu, who was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. She was part of the phase III randomized control trial of Roche, which covers previously untreated patients diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer.
She continues to receive innovative cancer drugs. These prescription drug innovations were said to have increased HER2+ breast cancer survival rate in the country.
One of the summit guest speakers, a hematology and medical oncology specialist from UAE, Dr. Hassan Jaafar, effectively conveyed scientific key messages, and confidently addressed questions on optimizing outcomes for HER2-Positive breast cancer patients with minimal residual disease.
Dr. Jaafar delivered powerful messages on the role of practice-changing advances in breast cancer. He emphasized the importance of multi-disciplinary team discussions, and the cost-effectiveness of treatment at the early setting for breast cancer.
He addressed questions alongside reactors, Dr. Priscilla Caguioa and Dr. Pamela Patdu. The interactive discussion was moderated by Dr. Christina Galvez. The doctors and the audience also strengthened their commitments to the patients “one stroke at a time,” during the Strokes of Hope exercise on the second day of the Summit.
According to Dr. Bill Ramos, vice president of PSMO, there are four key factors that need to be in place for patients to be treated successfully.
“These include disease awareness, because disease and symptoms are essential for screening and early detection; healthcare capacity, since well-trained teams are needed to work together with the right equipment to provide the best chances for patients; diagnosis of the disease, as it can be complex, but is vital to ensuring the right treatment choice; and government intervention, since this is necessary to improve the provision of access and quality healthcare.”
Today, Dr. Ramos said that there are multiple therapies available to patients depending on their type and stage of cancer.
“Current treatments include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy,” he explained, adding that personalized healthcare is also important to choose the right patient for the right treatment. “It is always best to consult a physician or healthcare professional,” he said.
For his part, Dr. Clarito Cairo Jr., MD, FPSVI, FPCOM of the Philippine Cancer Prevention and Control, presented during the Summit the National Integrated Cancer Law or the R.A. 11215, which was signed and made into law last February 14 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The vision of the new cancer law is to deliver comprehensive cancer care and optimize cancer survival by 2025 aligned with the Universal Healthcare Law where financial protection for Filipinos will also be addressed by the program and minimize the out-of-pocket expense of those who seek cancer treatment and medications.
With both the National Cancer Prevention and Control Law and Universal Healthcare Law, Dr. Cairo calls this as a milestone and the “golden age” of healthcare.
A report from Philippine Statistics Authority stated that cancer is the third-most common cause of death for both adults and children. And breast cancer remains to be the most common type of cancer in the country, according to a 2018 report from Globocan.