Press Release
May 20, 2008

Pia pitches for nat'l awareness on cervical, breast and ovarian cancer:
"RP has highest breast cancer incidence in Asia"

Addressing pressing issues on women's health, the Senate Committee on Health and Demography will be holding a public hearing today on proposed measures promoting awareness, prevention and control of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.

Senator Pia S. Cayetano, chair of the health committee, said Filipino women are very prone to these three types of cancer, noting that the Philippines has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Asia.

"Recently, more women are manifesting the disease at an early age, from thirties to forties," she said.

"Generally, the disease is still diagnosed late in its course, hence the survival rate of breast cancer in the Philippines is below fifty percent. Making the situation more difficult is the fact that around seventy percent of breast cancer patients are indigents."

On the other hand, Cayetano noted that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Filipino women, but is considered by medical experts to be deadlier.

"The bad news about cervical cancer is that although it is only second to breast cancer as the most common malignancy, cervical cancer is more deadly in terms of virulence. For every four Filipino women who survive cancer of the breast, only two or three will survive cancer of the cervix."

She said conservative estimates in the year 2000 placed the number of cervical cancer cases in the country at between 35,000 and 70,000. Almost 7,000 new cases are added to this annually, with 3,807 deaths reported every year. Almost half of the patients die within five years from diagnosis.

Among the bills to be taken up at today's hearing are: Senate Bill Nos.691, 934 and 1815 (Requiring a breast care center in every region), SBN 78 (Requiring LGUs to conduct a quarterly breast cancer detection program), SBN 975 (Establishing an ovarian cancer public awareness campaign), SBN 1439 (Mandating health plans to provide coverage for minimum hospital stay for masectomies, lumpectomies and lymph node dissection for treatment of breast cancer) and SBN 1870 (Establishing a cervical cancer awareness and prevention campaign).

"This hearing is very timely. Not too many people are aware that May is observed as 'Cervical Cancer Prevention Awareness Month' and this is probably reflective of our collective readiness to deal not only with cervical cancer, but also breast and ovarian cancer."

Cayetano hopes the passage of these measures would help improve the status of incidents of these cancers among Filipino women.

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