DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Women, have you done breast self-examination today? If not, then today is the day.

Early detection of symptoms of breast cancer remains the most effective way of treating the disease, Dr. Josephine Villafuerte of the City Health Office (CHO) said in a phone interview on Monday, October 2.

“If there are small lumps, they can go to the health center to have it checked so we can refer them for a mammogram and from it to the biopsy,” Villafuerte said.

She said they are encouraging women to do their breast self-exam regularly or visit the nearest city health center to learn how to do it.

According to the Health Advisory on Breast Self-Examination issued by the Department of Health (DOH) in 2005, self-examination may be done by looking at the breasts in the mirror to check on its size, shape and color. If there is redness, soreness or changes in the nipple’s position, one should see the doctor immediately.

Self-examining the breasts may be done standing up, sitting down or lying down, and checking the breasts of any soreness or any sign of fluid coming out of one or both nipples.

Breast cancer awareness

Villafuerte said they are campaigning for breast cancer awareness to prevent the illness.

The city government on Monday put up a large pink ribbon outside the City Hall to promote awareness.

Villafuerte said as part of the campaign of the DOH and the CHO, they have included breast examinations during the free visual inspection using acetic acid (VIA) for cervical cancer screening all over the barangays in the city.

The CHO will hold a mass VIA this month at the Davao City Recreation Center, formerly Almendras Gym. The exact date will be announced after its meeting with the DOH on October 4.

Free test, medicines

The CHO also refers cases for management of diagnosed patients, Villafuerte said.

All the tests at the Southern Philippines Medical Center are free, she said, citing the DOH’s Breast Cancer Medicines Access Program (BCMAP), which provides free medicines for treatment.

“It’s one of the illnesses where medicine is free, even for chemotherapy,” she said.

According to the DOH website, BCMAP helps improve the survival rate of cancer patients and alleviate the hardships in shouldering costly cancer treatment by targeting “the most cost-effective and commonly used adjuvant chemotherapy for Stage I-IIIb breast cancer in women.”

“The free medicines access program for cancer is not only meant to provide ready access to cancer medicines but to promote early-screening and cancer awareness among Filipinos emphasizing that detecting, treating and managing cancer in the early stages improves the overall prognosis and survival rates for patients,” the DOH said.
Breast was among the six most common sites of cancers diagnosed among Filipino women, based on DOH’s data. The other five sites include cervix, lung, colon/rectum, ovary and liver. (davaotoday.com)

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