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There’s no ’one size fits all’ treatment for lung cancer |


There’s no ’one size fits all’ treatment for lung cancer

OOH LA LAI - Lai S. Reyes - The Philippine Star
Thereâs no âone size fits allâ treatment for lung cancer
At the “Hit the Mark” launch: (from left) Engr. Emer Rojas, president of New Vois Association of the Philippines; Melissa Ongsue, VP of sales and marketing, Hi-Precision Diagnostics; Dr. Herdee Gloria Luna, president of the Philippine Society of Oncologists; Dr. Jose Jasper Andal, pathologist, St. Luke’s Medical Center; Vannessa Ongsue, VP for medical services, HPD; and host Nina Corpuz

When it comes to lung cancer treatment, there’s no “one size fits all” approach, simply because “an individual’s tumor is as individual as they are.”

This was emphasized by Dr. Herdee Luna, president of the Philippine Society of Oncologists, at the launch of the “Hit the Mark” campaign recently at the Isla Ballroom of Edsa Shangri-La Manila.

Organized by healthcare company MSD in the Philippines, the campaign aims to drive equitable access to biomarker testing and other innovative treatment options for lung cancer patients in the country.

What you need to know about biomarker testing

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the Philippines, with lung cancer topping the list for cancer-related mortality in the country. This comes as no surprise, as almost a quarter of Filipinos aged 15 years and above smoke cigarettes, increasing the risk of developing lung cancer.

Lung cancers are broadly classified into two types: small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). These two types of cancers grow, spread, and are treated in different ways, so making a distinction between these two types is important.

“Again, each person’s cancer holds a unique pattern called biomarkers or tumor markers,” notes Dr. Luna. “And these may impact how specific cancer treatments work.”

And that’s where biomarker testing comes in.

Through biomarker testing, doctors can look for genes, proteins, and other substances that may provide crucial information about how one’s cancer behaves and, in turn, inform personalized treatment options for the patient.

Sadly, not all lung cancer patients are aware that such screening exists and that innovative cancer treatments/therapies are available.

“That’s why MSD organized this health forum, which is aimed at raising public awareness on the importance of delivering the appropriate cancer treatment to patients at the right time,” shares advocate Nina Corpus of Hope from Within, a multi-stakeholder cancer advocacy campaign led by MSD.

Lung cancer tops the list for cancer-attributable mortality in the Philippines.

Cancer is no longer a death sentence

Lung cancer care has improved dramatically over the past decade. Thanks to advances in early detection, innovative therapies, and increased understanding that lung cancer is not one size fits all, the Big C is no longer a death sentence.

Scientific advances have led to the practice of precision medicine or personalized treatment, which is the tailoring of treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient’s tumor.

“Access to precision medicine may lead to better patient outcomes, helping avoid ineffective interventions and hefty healthcare costs,” explains Dr. Luna.

The sad part? It’s not available to every Juan.

During the forum, engineer Emer Rojas, a laryngeal cancer survivor and president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), emphasized the need for the full implementation of the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA) and the adequate funding of the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) so that more patients can benefit from accessible diagnostic and laboratory services.

Melissa Ongsue-Lee, vice president of sales and marketing at Hi-Precision Diagnostics (HPD), discussed how to make nationwide coverage for cancer testing possible through HPD clinics. For the first time, three biomarkers — PD-L1, EGFR, and ALK — in a lung panel test have been put together for the benefit of the patient.

Unlocking the potential of precision medicine

Given the complexity of the precision medicine landscape, only an intersectoral multi-stakeholder approach including patients as partners can unlock and realize the potential of precision medicine.

The From Testing to Targeted Treatments (FT3) Program, a not-for-profit, open and global community practice dedicated to better patient outcomes, brings to life the potential of Personalized Healthcare. As a collaborative program, FT3 is trying to identify potential collaborative solutions and replicable global best practices to enable more equitable access to precision medicine for those who can benefit.

After launching its first two pilots in Spain and Hungary last year, FT3 will soon launch its pilot program for cancer care in the Philippines. This initiative aims to address critical challenges in accessing personalized healthcare.

“People need to know that there are advancements in science, medicine and treatments which could help improve patient outcomes,” Luna adds.

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