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Philippines tops breast cancer cases in Asia; tests urged

MANILA, Philippines — With the Philippines topping other countries in Asia when it comes to the number of cases of breast cancer, doctors and health advocates yesterday urged all Filipino women to undergo breast examination regularly.

According to Philppine Breast Cancer Society (PBCS) president Cristina Galvez, the country has the most recorded number of cases of breast cancer in Asia.

“We want to raise awareness about breast cancer screening,” she said at yesterday’s Pink Ribbon Day at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. 

The event was organized by PBCS and SM Cares to encourage women to have their breasts examined for early detection and early intervention.  

It is also in line with the celebration Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October. 

Galvez noted they could not pinpoint yet why the Philippines is high in breast cancer cases but it may be because of high fat diet, lack of exercise and delay in having children or not having children at all.  

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The other reason could be due to “better detection” of cases.

SM Cares vice president for Corporate Affairs Maria Elena Bautista-Horn underscored the importance of detecting breast cancer early.

“We have this event to put all the women power together to help fight cancer. I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in 2015, Stage 2, but I am here alive,” she added.

Horn said breast cancer can be defeated “but what is important is early detection and treatment.”

“Don’t be afraid to undergo check up. Cancer is not a death sentence. There are now new technologies and medicine to diagnose and treat cancer so don’t be afraid,” she added.

Horn recalled that she went through the “whole protocol” from removal of the lump in her breast, as well as chemotherapy and radiation. “I finished every thing. My hair has already grown. There is life after cancer.”

She admitted she felt like the world crumbled when she was told by doctors that she had cancer.   

“I was like a robot. I just followed what the doctors were telling me. I was very positive during the whole journey, because of that I thought half of the battle was won already. It’s really how you look at things. I feel like I came out stronger after cancer,” she said. 

Horn added that when she was diagnosed, she had four-year-old twins so she knew she had to fight on. 

Melanie Cruz of PBCS said regular breast examination is the best way to detect the disease at the earliest possible stage.

“We want people, especially women in the high-risk groups, to be more conscious about the need to conduct the breast self-examination because this will bring about early detection that will raise their chances of fighting the disease,” Cruz added.

Women aged 20 and above should conduct breast self-examination monthly right after their period. 

This is done by using the pads of the fingers in a circular pattern, moving from the center of the breast going out, including the nipple-areola and armpit areas to detect the presence of lumps, dimples, fluids and changes in the nipple color or texture.

Aside from breast self-examination, clinical examinations must also be conducted every one to three years.

For women 40 years and above, mammography screenings must be done every year. 

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