Confronting breast cancer

Photo from Unsplash

October is breast cancer consciousness month. Here is good news for women (and men) who may be looking fearfully at the possibility of having breast cancer!

Do you know we have the first ever, freestanding, profit-for-charity surgical ambulatory center, which implements US protocols and uses advanced technologies for breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and management?

Yes, this is the Asian Breast Center (ABC) in Makati. You will feel the warmth, comfort, and positivity in the unique healing environment that puts you at ease, a modern approach to treatment, and its advocacy of early detection, prevention, and breast conservation. WHO’s Agency for Research on cancer shows that breast cancer is overtaking lung cancer in terms of cases reported and our country has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Southeast Asia.

The profit-for-charity ABC (they have scholars in the field in partnership with De La Salle School of Medicine in Cavite) from the excess profit they get from paying patients. It opened its doors in 2017 on the eighth floor of Centuria Medical Makati to the health community and breast cancer awareness advocates. The one-stop shop is now the facility of choice for women (and men) when it comes to their breast health and wellness. Providing a COVID-safe environment free from in-hospital diseases and viruses, it is fitted with a spacious waiting area, consultation rooms, diagnostic rooms, a modern operating room, and recovery rooms aptly called Executive Suites.

As the ABC strictly adheres to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) guidelines, patients are assured they are getting the same quality and standard of care similar to leading breast cancer hospitals in the US. This means you no longer have to travel abroad to get the same level of care because it’s already here! Topnotch treatment is provided by ABC’s team of doctors headed by Dr. Norman San Agustin, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and founder and president of Morristown Surgical Associates at the Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.

The center believes in offering a holistic, comprehensive, and multi-disciplinary approach to breast care that includes prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment. The 45-minute comprehensive consultation is already inclusive of a complete medical history assessment, Gail scoring, clinical breast exam, education on breast exam and cancer risk-reduction, cart ultrasound reading, tailored treatment plan, and options for other diagnostic procedures superior to other health providers. Experts from medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, plastic surgery, radiology, and even physical therapy can all be found at the ABC.

For diagnosis, the center has a Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) machine that can accurately detect cancer with higher accuracy and specificity versus a mammogram. It is much safer than a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam, an expensive high-tech diagnostic test used specifically if there are inconclusive findings in the mammogram and/or breast ultrasound. Some European nations have totally banned some breast MRI tests because it uses Gadolinium-based contrast (or dye) agents that remain in the brain for many years after the scan. The MBI uses Tc-99 sestamibi, an approved agent for breast imaging. This low-radiation-dose protocol dye is perfectly safe as it is completely secreted once the patient urinates after the exam, and so it does not remain in the body. The MBI can be helpful for some women who need but cannot endure an MRI session for reasons such as kidney failure, claustrophobia, or who have pacemakers or some other metallic implants.

So there, fear not, expert diagnosis and treatments in ABC need not make you less of a woman if you have breast cancer.

( Next week: Coping with breast cancer)