Department of Health

Why screening for breast cancer even without symptoms is important

Kaycee Valmonte

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Why screening for breast cancer even without symptoms is important
Data from the Philippine Cancer Society show that breast cancer has a high survival rate for those who are diagnosed early

MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to help with the early detection of cancer, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will soon offer free mammograms and ultrasounds through its Konsulta Package.

Mammograms can help detect even those with early-stage breast cancer, the Philippine Foundation for Breast Care, Incorporated said.

This works even for those without symptoms since a screening mammogram will allow doctors to “look for signs” of breast cancer through an X-ray.

On Tuesday, March 12, House Speaker Martin Romualdez said PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. promised to make mammograms and ultrasounds among the services available under the state insurer’s primary care package by July.

“This will ensure sustainable financing of preventive health services that can catch cancer and other conditions early so that we can unload higher level hospitals within the health care provider network,” Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said in a separate statement.

The Department of Health (DOH), citing the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS), said in early March that breast cancer is the top cancer site among Filipinos.

Most or 65% of cases are detected at the advanced stage or when the cancer has already spread, the DOH said. Breast cancer is the top cancer site for Filipino women. (READ: Breast cancer: Not necessarily a death sentence, but a costly battle)

Early detection and getting treatment can significantly boost one’s survival rate. PCS data showed that breast cancer has a high survival rate – around 75% to 90% – for those who are diagnosed early. Those who are at the late stages have a 10% to 40% survival rate.

The PhilHealth board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, March 13. Once the program gets rolling, Filipino women can get free annual mammogram and ultrasound services from PhilHealth. – Rappler.com

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