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NEW EQUIPMENT PROFILE The UST Hospital continues its aggressive equipment-updating program with these new acquisitions.
Benavides Cancer Institute
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National Comprehensive
Cancer Network
A Higher Level of Caring
The University of Santo Tomas Hospital brings new hope as it unveils the Benavides Cancer Institute
UST Hospital
Last year saw the groundbreaking of an ambitious project.It as hopeful and unprecedented,something that could actually make a difference in the lives of thousands of people and their families.This year that vision became real as The University of Santo Tomas Hospital inaugurates the Benavides Cancer Institute (BCI).
Celebrating 60 years as a leading medical institution,the UST Hospital adds another milestone to its exemplary record of service and care with the Benavides Cancer Institute.It isn ’t only that cancer has become the fourth leading cause of mortality in the Philippines – the top three being infectious diseases,trauma,and cardiovascular diseases – but the Benavides Cancer Institute also seeks to provide the best in cancer care in the Philippines and the Asia Pacific region as well. There aren ’t many places more suitable than the distinguished university to establish such a revolutionary cancer center as the Benavides Cancer Institute.The UST Hospital itself has begun to reassess its role and found areas where it can offer more.President and CEO Dr.Cenon Alfonso,who specializes in hepatobiliary- pancreatic surgery,shares,“Way back in September 2003,we were asked by the UST board of trustees to propose a five-year strategic plan for the hospital which aims to bring it back to its premier state and convert it from simply being a national to an international institution,at least in the Asia Pacific region.”
The first step was to look at the most pressing health concerns in the country today. A study released by the Department of Health shows that the number one cancer in the Philippines is lung cancer,followed by breast,colon and prostate cancer.“We need a facility which
is focused not only on treatment but also on prevention,diagnosis, and research on cancer because one,based on statistics,it is the number four cause of death in the Philippines;and while at present we have a young population,we will all be getting older and one of the risk factors for getting cancer is age,” observes Benavides Cancer Institute director and head of chemotherapy Dr.Gina Panuncialman. Around the world,statistics are also showing similar findings,and the need for a complete, cancer-focused medical facility is resounding.
According to a medical survey of all countries across the globe,75 percent of the world is in need of better cancer treatment.
"Benavides Cancer Institute is envisioned to offer a multi-disciplinary professional medical service for patients needing cancer care,” declares Dr.Panuncialman.“This will be from prevention, diagnosis,treatment,and follow-up aspects of cancer patients.Since everything will be consolidated in this one single facility,there is that special focus on cancer care.” “And I believe that it has already been proven that a holistic approach in cancer care gives the most successful outcome,” confirms Dr..Teresa T.Sy Ortin,head of radiation oncology department.
"In line with that,” adds surgical oncologist Dr.Karl Morales,“if you look at the survival rate of patients right now,it has dramatically improved over the past decade.This can be attributed to better screening,early diagnosis, and the ability to procure better
treatment modalities.A lot of scientific studies have been making significant contributions to this effect, especially now that we ’re seeing clinical trials coming up with results showing that cancer can be treated at the molecular level.So I think this (the Benavides Cancer Institute)is all in the context of treating cancer in a multi-disciplinary approach.”
Clearly,Benavides Cancer Institute is a center capable of much more than an ordinary hospital or medical center which only provides cancer treatment services to patients.“Having a well- equipped,trained and experienced staff,and state-of-the-art equipment comparable to international standards,the Benavides Cancer Institute ’s comprehensive cancer center will offer the most effective means of diagnosis and treatment,” Dr.Morales states.
A competent medical staff and the most modern infrastructure available for treatment,research and training are exactly what define a medical facility like the Benavides Cancer Institute.“In a dedicated space or infrastructure,there should be comprehensive care – meaning preventive treatment,treatment of active diseases,and surveillance of after-treatment and rehabilitation,” explains the father of BCI himself,Dr.Alfonso,from whom the institute ’s concept developed.’“Number two, we should have research which is the soul of cancer treatment.Without research,we don ’t progress and we wouldn ’t be able to treat cancer well.Third,there should be training programs for the lay people as well as the medical practitioners who would like to specialize in various fields of oncology.”
Dr.Panuncialman adds,”“Our edge over other cancer centers is that in one structure, we have all these components together:staff, physical facilities,and ambulatory treatments.We have them together so that our patients don ’t have to travel from one place to the other in order to get their treatments done.We want to facilitate their diagnosis and treatment so that we wouldn ’t waste a lot of time.Because in the treatment of cancer,time,of course,is of the essence.”
Besides,“cancer treatment does not depend on just one specialist,” Dr. Panuncialman describes.”“At one time or the other,patients undergo different types of treatment.One,for example,is radiation; then there is surgery,there is also chemotherapy,and the last are biologic treatments which are the newest in medical oncology nowadays.What we can offer patients is that in one place,in one setting,we have the staff which is composed of different specialists and we have the facilities.” She further maintains,“I think our best asset is our medical staff.We ’re proud to say that our medical staff have made their marks in their own specialties.”
If it seems that the kind of holistic cancer care Benavides Cancer Institute offers comes at a price,the reality is,it ’s more practical and economical to get the treatment here – it ’s easier on the patient as well.“UST Hospital has always enjoyed a reputation for being the
leading hospital in patient care,research, and training,” says medical director Dr. Rolando Cabatu.“With the Benavides Cancer Institute,we can offer the total package on cancer treatment without patients having to travel to Singapore,Europe,or the States.” The difference,however,lies not in quality but in the cost of treatment.“It ’s certainly more attractive to receive treatments here,” says Dr.Panuncialman.“Drugs of the same quality are cheaper and the professional services are cheaper,too.We also have the specialists who come home from training and practicing in other countries.”
The UST Hospital also has plans of establishing other institutes after Benavides Cancer Institute.The next four are in fact already underway.These centers which focus on cardiovascular diseases,endocrine and metabolic systems,organ transplantation, and ophthalmology.
But for now,Benavides Cancer Institute is all set to give the best cancer care in the country – and the Asia Pacific for that matter. “We ’re not really trying to compete with the US or Europe,” Dr.Alfonso clarifies.“We can certainly compete with the cost,but it ’s more about going global and bringing world standards right here in the Philippines.” Dr. Morales concludes,“I think the Benavides Cancer Institute shares a common goal or common vision together with all cancer centers worldwide – that is to give the best treatment of cancer until there comes a time that it will be eradicated.”
A Special Section of The Philippine STAR Monday, August 21, 2006