DOH ups measures for a cancer-free Central Luzon

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO---The Department of Health (DOH) through its Center for Health Development has boosted its awareness campaign on cancer to make the region free of the illness or at least reduce significantly new cases in Central Luzon.

Cancer, in all its forms, has been the second leading cause of death in Central Luzon from 2019 to 2022 based on the Field Health Service Information System data of the DOH. In the country, the leading cause of cancer-related mortality is breast cancer followed by lung, colon, and liver.

The DOH explained cancer is a medical condition caused when the body’s cells grow and divide out of control, which may potentially spread to other organs of the body. When these cells overproduce, they can form a mass called a tumor. The tumor can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). When the tumor is malignant, it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. Meanwhile, there are other types of cancer that do not develop tumors, such as leukemia.

Signs and symptoms of cancer include changes in bladder/bowel habits, sores that do not heal, unusual bleeding or discharge, thickening or lump in breast or elsewhere, indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, obvious changes in warts or moles, nagging cough or persistent hoarseness, unexplained weight loss, and pernicious anemia.

To prevent this, the DOH conducts capacity development activities like seminars and workshops for local government unit health workers to provide them with the proper knowledge regarding the disease, its risks, and symptoms.

“The goal is to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status, has access to quality cancer prevention, screening, treatment, and palliative care. Because we are teaching our health workers, our goal is to be able to screen early. They should be able to determine what to look out for and what to do so that patients can be diagnosed early,” the agency said.

The DOH added that it has also established the referral pathway so that health workers know where and how to refer patients suspected of having cancer in order to guide them where to receive the right services from the government.

DOH also has the Cancer Supportive Care and Palliative Care Medicine Access Program (CSPMAP) which aims to provide free medicines to identified priority sets of cancer types that are not yet fully covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to avoid or minimize out of pocket costs among the target population.

In Central Luzon, the three CSPMAP access sites are Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in the City of San Fernando, Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center in Balanga City, and Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in Cabanatuan City.

Assistance can likewise be provided by the DOH to qualified cancer patients through the Malasakit program and Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients.

The DOH assured that cancer is preventable, by maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, limit consumption of red and processed meats, avoid tobacco smoking and vaping, limit alcohol intake, and engage in regular physical activity to reduce the risks associated with developing cancer.

“We also encourage our local government units to establish clubs like the hypertension and cancer club so that these people can help each other to encourage other people to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” the agency said.


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