Linggo, Oktubre 20, 2013


Reported by: Juvy de Guzman

Investigating the therapeutic claims of dietary supplements in cancer treatment in the Philippines (PSMO)
Dr. EllieMay D. Villegas and Ms. Joyce Cirunay
Steady increase in cancer incidence around the world. The top sites for women include breast, cervix, uteri, and lung, while top sites for men include lung, liver, colon/rectum, and prostate. It is important to spread cancer awareness and information to keep the numbers from going up. Of the leading causes of cancer in the Philippines – breast, lung, liver, colon-rectal, and cervix – three are preventable (lung, liver, cervix) and the remaining two can be cured if detected early (breast, colon-rectal). Although cancer awareness campaigns happen yearly, it is always vital to continue awareness initiatives as new information is constantly available as research and cancer studies continue.
In addition to awareness, safe and effective cancer care and treatments are also vital information that should be shared. While knowledge of the disease is spreading it is also important to remind patients of how to treat the disease in the safest and most effective way possible.
Proper and correct information dissemination is one of the main goals of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO). PSMO is a scientific, professional organization of 196 practicing Philippine medical oncologists committed to the advancement of the science, ethical, and holistic practice of medical oncology. PSMO participates in national programs, campaigns, and activities and actively promote cancer awareness and safe practices in medical oncology for optimal patient results.
On October 18, 2013, PSMO along with the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), Philippine Food Drug and Administration (FDA), pharmaceutical company Roche, and Globo Asiatico Enterprises, Inc. held a press conference with the encompassing theme “Dietary Supplements: Investigating the Claims.” There is an increasing number of herbal supplements (both food and medicines) being promoted in the Philippines and patients have little or real knowledge about them other than what they read or see in advertisements. PSMO, PCP, along with FDA, saw the urgency to demystify the allure of these herbal alternatives and give patients facts so they may make educated and informed decisions, along with their doctors, about their treatment.
“With the proliferation of scientifically-unsupported alternative cancer treatments, PSMO has established that there is a need to educate the public on how to address the cancer problem,” PSMO president Dr. Felycette Gay Lapus shared. “This year, the focus of PSMO is on information dissemination through partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, government offices, and the media. PSMO has put together a position paper on the use of dietary supplements in cancer treatment to help guide fellow oncologists, doctors, and patients in making correct choices when it comes to cancer treatment. This is in line with the mission of PSMO to equip the Filipino citizens with the correct information in regards to cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment.”

Cancer Treatment: Chemotherapy

“We understand that patients may want to try alternative treatments,” Dr. Ellie May Villegas, PSMO vice president, shared. “However, these alternative treatments, instead of main stream therapies, were proven to be unsafe and even expensive. Patients would be better served by looking at complementary medicines that are used as adjuncts to mainstream cancer care. They are supportive measures that control symptoms, enhance well-being, and contribute to overall patient care. Their benefits are usually supported by clinical studies and they are generally inexpensive. Complementary therapies include acupuncture, massage, music, and mind-body therapies such as meditation and dietary supplements which are generally regarded as safe (GRAS).”
At the press conference held in Shangri-la EDSA Plaza Hotel, Drs. Lapus and Villegas shared PSMO’s policy statement on alternative therapies as well as information on food and herbal supplements with no approved therapeutic claims, and the benefits of integrative oncology in cancer treatment. They likewise shared a list of the commonly- used supplements not supported by high-level scientific evidence, those supported by very limited high-level scientific evidence, and those supported by high-level scientific evidence. Additionally, Ms. Joyce Cirunay and Ms. Florita Moreleja from FDA’s International Affairs Office and Health Scams Surveillance Office respectively, joined the press conference to share the latest steps that the FDA have taken to fight against dietary supplements with false claims that have led to harm.
“We continue in our quest to arm the public with as much information as possible,” said Dr. Lapus. “Prevention is the ultimate goal, but if it can’t be achieved then it is important to get proper and safe treatment as early as possible. With many dietary supplements and preparations, we felt it was important to discuss the documented facts.”
Several medical and technological advances have been made in cancer research and treatment and as a result more people are surviving cancer. These include innovative cancer medicines backed by clinical trials, targeted and biologic therapies, personalized health care, proper and accurate diagnosis, new complementary tests, multidisciplinary treatment, and side-effect management. All of these have resulted in more Filipinos surviving cancer.
The main goal in cancer management and treatment is still education and knowing the facts. The more patients are empowered with the facts, the more they can make educated decisions with their doctors on the right course of safe and effective treatment. While dietary supplements and alternative treatments may seem appealing and are fast becoming readily available, patients should be vigilant that they are not being misled by false promises. Proven treatments should take precedence with alternative supplements being just that, “supplements” to mainstream cancer therapies. (VerGarciaBlogs)

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