Cancer management is complicated. It involves several tests and procedures with more often than not, doctors from different specialties. However, the “doctor decides” system regarding treatment is not only disheartening, this may also leave patients and families confused about what to do.
The good news is there have been many developments in cancer management during the past decade. Treatment is no longer a “one size fits all” type but personalized medicine, which involves careful consideration of the patient’s cancer behavior and characteristics. The newest test procedures help to determine the behavior of the tumor, thus helping physicians what treatment options they should administer to the patient. Additionally, these tests and the advent of new cancer drugs help lessen the use of chemotherapy with a more personalized cancer care treatment. While these drugs still have some inevitable side-effects, they’re generally more patient-friendly and offers better chances than a conventional chemotherapy.
“In the future, we may just be able to make a diagnosis of cancer by doing blood tests, though this may still be several years to a decade from today,” says Dr. Denky Dela Rosa, an oncologist from St. Luke’s Global City and University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMC). “We may be able to detect the presence of cancer cells in the blood without having the need to go through procedures to sample the tumor or we may be able to detect through these blood tests if the tumor is still responding or has already developed resistance, “ adds Doc Denky.
Cancer is known to weaken the immune system thus making itself proliferate from the absence of the check and balance of the immune system. But with the newest type of cancer treatment, it strengthens the patient’s immune system to be able to fight off the cancer cells. This treatment is going to revolutionize cancer treatment and management because it is expected to be effective against a wide range of cancer. “At the moment, it is only approved for lung cancer but we may soon see approval in genitourinary cancer, head and neck cancers, gastrointestinal cancers and more,” affirms Dr. Denky.
Although there are new advances in cancer treatment, there is a side to the cancer journey that we do not frequently talk about, which is the chance of its success. While the treatments may be remarkably effective, there are still cases that the patients’ disease still progresses. Not to mention, this treatment is more costly, so it’s vital that the physician is able to discuss the objectives and goals of cancer care management. With shared decision making strategy, it also allows the physician to understand the values, wishes and resources of both the family and patient.
Whether it’s an early stage or advanced stage, cancer treatment not only involves application of the most up to date tests and treatment, but understanding what steps are worthy of consideration. Another factor that the patient and family should understand about cancer care management is the importance of a compassionate and holistic cancer care. The physician’s quality time and listening ears make an immense difference in the cancer journey since it’s a disease that brings emotional, psychological and financial toxicities to both the patient and their family. An oncologist goal is not only to give treatment but prolonging life and maintaining quality life, which can only be achieved when an oncologist knows how to use both of his brain and heart in coming up a cancer battle plan.
Dr. Denky Dela Rosa, MD, FPCP, FPSMO’s can be contacted at (02) 789 7700 or at the following clinics:
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at St. Luke’s Medical Center – Bonifacio Global City MAB 820, Rizal Drive corner 32nd Street and 5 th Avenue, Taguig, 1634. Call (02) 715 0861 local 7820.
Wednesdays and Fridays 10: AM to 12:00NN at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, Aurora Boulevard, Sta. Mesa, Quezon City, 1105. Call (02) 715 0861.
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