Abandonment of cancer treatment alarming

Pediatric hematologist/oncologist Cheryl Lyn Diez of the Children’s Cancer Institute Department of Pediatrics, SPMC. (Photo by Erika B. Ramos, UM Intern)

AN ONCOLOGIST of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) expressed alarm on the number of Dabawenyo patients diagnosed with cancer who abandon their treatment.

Doctor Cheryl Lyn Diez, pediatric hematologist/oncologist of the Children’s Cancer Institute Department of Pediatrics in SPMC, said on Friday that abandonment among Dabawenyos is higher than those patients outside the city.

Once these patients abandon treatment, which means they already started the treatment but do not follow it up for minimum of four weeks, oncologists already consider it as treatment failure which is fatal. Usually if they abandon treatment, the cancer worsens and the chances of survival are lower for children with cancer.

“Our problem in Davao City, the abandonment is high. When we say abandonment, we were able to start treatment; however, at least four weeks no follow up. Mas less ang abandonment for patients outside Davao, we were wondering why with all these facilities and these local and non-local government institution to help, why [they still abandon],” she said.

The possible reason she cited is that maybe Dabawenyo patients are complacent that the treatment is just a few meters away and they could just go to the hospital anytime unlike those coming from different parts of Mindanao.

“If after treatment, the following week mag-follow up sila kasi ang treatment if leukemia, may mga treatment sila na three to four times a week, pag solid tumor every three weeks ang treatment. In between mag follow up dapat sila,” she said.

If the patients return, Dr. Diez said they will still cater to them but they will mark them for possible abandonment.

She added they also conduct family conferences to seek for the patients’ and their families’ commitment to care, and at the same time ask the reason for their abandonment.

Dr. Diez, however, said that there are cases where patients were forced to abandon treatment because their mother just gave birth and no one will accompany them.

“We are working on that, that’s why we have families na i-meet, we want to talk to them because we also want to improve the quality of care because we want to decrease abandonment,” Diez added.


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