Business As Usual

Marian Radiation Oncology Center: Dollar earner, dollar saver

- Carla Paras-Sison -
For privileged Filipinos, cancer treatment normally means going to the best US hospitals and spending upwards of a million pesos for a permanent cure.

Today, Filipinos can avail of world-class cancer management services right here in the country for a fraction of the normal cost.

The Marian Radiation Oncology Center (MROC) in Fairview, Quezon City, is now operational, giving cancer patients a variety of treatment options never before available in this part of the globe.

Dr. Eduardo Tan, a radiation oncologist and MROC president, said the center was born out of a vision to provide state-of-the-art cancer treatment in the Philippines as well as to make the country the premier location for cancer treatment in Southeast Asia.

"We wanted to keep abreast with the modern technologies in cancer management. Anti-cancer treatment is quite expensive elsewhere and we believed it was time to bring it within reach of our fellow Filipinos," he explained.

For example, the procedure for a prostrate implant, a form of cancer management, would fetch $20,000 to $30,000 in a good American hospital. This procedure can be done in the Philippines for P100,000 or less.
Dollar income
The potential for huge dollar savings is one thing. The potential for substantial dollar income is another. With its modern and innovative approach, MROC stands to attract the patronage of cancer patients from neighboring Southeast Asia.

The MROC’s anti-cancer equipment, used for both simulation and treatment, allows it to offer Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), one of the first in Southeast Asia to do so through the combined use of a computed tomographic (CT) simulator and a dynamic multi-leaf collimator.

MROC’s CT, the only one in the country, allows cancer specialists to simulate treatment options, to find the optimum sequence

and fine-tune the chosen alternative according to expected patient response. Simulation enhances the quality of treatment and increases the chances for the most favorable method to be implemented.

The multi-leaf collimator is also a first. The only other country in Southeast Asia that has the same equipment is Singapore. The multi-leaf collimator allows radiation treatment to be focused on tumor cells alone, saving the good or healthy cells from harmful radiation.
Trained staff
The investment in world-class equipment is not the only thing going for MROC.

Tan is a proud of the center’s staff of well-trained, highly- motivated doctors, nurses and radiation technologists. Having a facility that can use their expertise has encouraged the MROC staff to remain in the country when colleagues are queuing up to go abroad.

"Aside from our local staff, we also have foreign physicists who serve as back up and with whom we can consult for special cases," he said.

MROC has picked the best treatment models followed by cancer centers in Europe and the US. "We are influenced , to some degree, by the William Beaumont Hospital (in Detroit, Michigan) under Dr. Alvaro Martinez and also by the Offebach (Germany) technique," he said.

"The other important thing really is to improve the results of treatment. Patients will receive these benefits without paying any more than what they will normally pay similar institutions elsewhere in the country," Tan said.
MROC’s decision to price competitively stems from the desire to serve more people. Among MROC investors are doctors, mostly graduates from the FEU College of Medicine, and entrepreneurs like Joseling Tambunting of the pawnshop chain and James Tan and of the Tan Kim Ching Cancer Center in Cebu City.

"It will definitely take us much longer to get a return on investment because the equipment we have are all very expensive. But it’s more important for us to help the patients, to give them the best treatment options," Tan said.

The MROC is a boon to many cancer patients, and nothing short of a miracle to some. Named after the Virgin Mary, the shareholder, led by chairman Dr. Lilia Luna, believe the center is another "fruit of the womb" of Mother Mary. And it aims to bring hope, healing and a scientific cure to the afflicted.











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