CANCER is one of the world’s most dreaded diseases. However, with the advancement of technology in the medical front, most forms of cancer can now be treated, provided that they are detected early.
Through Hope From Within, a multi-stakeholder advocacy program led by MSD Philippines, a forum was held focusing on the rise of cases of lung cancer in the Philippines, and the stronger fighting chance for survival if patients, caregivers, and medical professionals act as a community to combat and win over disease.
Despite the overwhelming statistics, there is a stronger fighting chance, starting with the changing perspective on cancer management that focuses on the whole patient journey.
With more treatment options that are now accessible thanks to better research and collaborative action, and new mandates like the new National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA), diagnosis, care, and treatments can be made more accessible to patients.
To address the gaps and barriers from the perspective of patients and caregivers in the cancer patient journey, the dialogue brought to light the crucial stages in lung cancer management – from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis, treatment, and after-treatment care. The discussion also touched on the emotional, physical, and financial burdens experienced in the patient’s journey, giving more light towards spurring collaborative action within all patient groups.
At the center of the new era of cancer care and management are the breakthrough novel treatment options like immunotherapy and targeted therapies. These options were proven to prolong the survival and quality of life of many patients with advanced lung cancer. To increase access to new treatments like immunotherapy, the forum expounded on updates on the NICCA and other patient treatment access programs.
Under the NICCA, the government’s cancer care facilities will be expanded to include the development of a Philippine Cancer Center and regional cancer centers, and will broaden PhilHealth benefits to include not only treatment but also screening, rehabilitation, pain management, and palliative care. The law will also grant cancer patients and survivors 20 percent discount on medicines and maintenance drugs, among other benefits under the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.