With advances in treatment, detection, screening and the requisite lifestyle changes, cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was. This was declared by one of Singapore’s foremost oncologists, Dr. Ang Peng Tiam at the Asia CEO Forum held last September 6.
“Many Stage 4 cancers cannot be cured, but cancer can be cured if it is diagnosed at an early
stage. The good news about cancer treatment is that even though we cannot cure it, we now are
often able to control the disease very well… We’re talking about treatment with good control of disease and preservation of the quality of life,” he explained.
Dr. Ang – the medical director of Parkway Cancer Centre in Singapore – showed his business audience the latest in cancer screening, which helps detect cancer early. PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scans are revolutionizing cancer screening by making cancerous mass more visible in the cross-sectional images, which regular CT scans don’t normally show. Cancer cells are more active and they “light up” with the use of a radioactive sugar solution specifically used for PET scans.
Once the cancer has been identified and located, Dr. Ang talked about the various treatments
available to patients. Aside from surgery (for acute or sensitive cases), Dr. Ang emphasized non- invasive procedures to cure cancer. He explained that the term chemotherapy doesn’t refer to a single procedure. Instead, it’s a blanket term used to refer to any treatment using chemicals.
As pharmaceutical companies continue their research and development, more and more options
arrive in the market — ensuring effective treatment for numerous kinds of cancer. Side effects of chemotherapy will also depend on the type of drugs used for the treatment, so hair and weight
loss are not always expected when patients undergo chemotherapy. He also showed several
examples of successful cancer treatments — actual patients from the Parkway Cancer Centr who agreed to be part of his presentation to show that proper treatment and care
always yield positive results.
There is, of course, the matter of prevention which is a more proactive way of preventing the Big C. Dr. Ang noted that there are several ways to lessen the non-genetic risks of being afflicted by cancer.
This includes maintaining an ideal weight by adhering to a healthy diet, eating in moderation (including sugars/carbohydrates and grilled meat), and doing regular exercises; smoking must be avoided; and people must receive the available vaccinations against certain cancers (like the HPV vaccine) if they can afford it.
Dr. Ang added that early detection will give patients a greater chance of beating cancer. One of the worst things about cancer is that it barely has any symptoms. Sometimes, it could be as simple as persistent coughs and colds. He suggests that if something about your health is bothering you for more than two consecutive weeks, it is best to consult a physician on the best course of action.
The Singaporean oncologist was joined in the forum by three Filipina CEOs who shared their own journeys towards a more healthy lifestyle.
Ms. Agnes Gervacio, Chief Operating Adviser of MDI, has been spent more than two decades in
the telecom and IT industries of Asia. Roughly two years ago, she decided to give lacto-ovo-
vegetarianism a chance after hearing about different kinds of vegetarian diets from a fellow
speaker. With her new lifestyle, she noticed her skin has become clearer and she has more
energy to do the things she loves.
ECHOstore founder and Philippine Coffee Board president Ms. Pacita ‘Chit’ Juan has had her
share of heartbreak because of a family member lost to cancer. With the desire to live a better,
healthier life, she became a “flexi-tarian” (adhering to a vegetarian diet daily unless she can’t find vegetarian options, especially at events she attends) and started doing yoga with dear friends and colleagues. Today, she is an advocate for healthy and sustainable living as the Southeast Asia Councilor of Slow Food International.
When she was a senior executive at Convergys, the Philippines’ largest private sector employer,
Ms. Marife Zamora made a name for herself in the IT industry. In 2011, she was named the Global
Filipino Executive of the Year at the Asia CEO Awards. She decided to live a healthier lifestyle to have more time to spend with her family and keep up with them on exciting family trips.
Having a positive outlook still counts in beating cancer in the end.
” It’s very important that the patient must have the will to fight. At the end of the day, we live for ourselves, our family, and our friends. And that’s why we do these talks. It’s very important for us to motivate patients and the general public, to share with everyone the medical advances that are taking place,” Dr. Ang closed.