There Are Ways To Prevent And Prepare For Cancer—Here’s How
Don’t let cancer claim your life or your future. Prepare for the unexpected with these tips from AXA and the Philippine Cancer Society
Cancer remains to be one of the leading causes of mortality all over the world. According to the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Human Genetics - National Institutes of Health, 96 cancer patients die every day. Among Asian countries, Philippines also has the highest incidence of breast cancer, with three out of 100 Filipinas developing breast cancer before age 75.
But while cancer rates are alarmingly growing, knowledge and awareness about the disease remains stagnant.
Many Filipinos are still not actively living healthier lives or striving to be mindful about their risks for cancer.
One of the things about cancer is that while it has no definite cure at the moment, there are many ways to prevent it or detect it at an earlier stage. We ask AXA Philippines’ Health and Nutrition Adviser (HANA) about how early detection and screening would help spare us from one of the world’s deadliest diseases—and how much better off we are prepared than being at the mercy of this dreaded disease
Q: “My family has a history of breast and colon cancer and I’ve read somewhere that cancer is genetic. Is this true? Am I doomed to develop cancer?”
A: Technically, everyone has some risk of developing cancer since it’s caused by gene mutations that occur randomly in our body. But some people who have cancer history in their family are deemed genetically predisposed to develop certain types of cancer more than others.While this sounds alarming, genetics is just one part of cancer risk. Dr. Rachael Rosario, executive director of the Philippine Cancer Society, highlights that what you put inside your body and your environment are equally responsible in determining your risk factor for certain cancers.
With today’s technology, we have developed ways to detect cancer early through various screening tests. When your cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, when it hasn’t spread yet, there is a bigger chance that it can be treated successfully. More than 90 percent of women with breast cancer who get diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive their disease. 80 percent of lung cancer patients will also survive if diagnosed early. In fact, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that cancer mortality rates have dropped significantly over the past two decades, thanks to these prevention efforts.The most important thing is to know your risk factors—this encompasses your genetic predisposition, current health, medical history, and overall lifestyle—and consult your doctor about screening tests that you should undergo based on those results.
Q: “I’m ready to take a proactive role towards my health! What are some of the tests that I can do to detect any abnormalities early? Are there vaccines that I can have to lower my risk for cancer?”
The most important thing to remember about early detection and cancer prevention, says Dr. Rachael, is to have a doctor that will take care of you and attend to your welfare. Your doctor alone can give you the proper advice on what to do and when to do it, depending on your risk factors.In the Philippines, some of the most common cancer types are breast, lung, colorectal, liver, cervical, and prostate cancer. And there are different kinds of tests that can be undertaken depending on the kind of cancer that you’re most at risk for.For breast cancer, one of the most common cancer conditions for Filipinos, the gold standard for early detection remains to be the mammogram. If your risk factors are not as high, you can be recommended forregular clinical breast exams, which is a breast examination by a health care provider who has had training to find lumps in the breast.
Dr. Rachael also recommends all women starting 20 years old to learn how to do breast self-exam.For cervical exam, pap smear remains to be the best test to reduce incidence and mortality. Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) can also reduce up to 20 percent in colorectal cancer mortality.While there are no cancer vaccines per se, there are vaccines that prevent infectious diseases, which later can trigger cancer.
HPV vaccine, for example, will protect you from strains of virus that have the predilection to infect and trigger cancer in your cervix. The hepatitis B vaccine was also dubbed as the first “anti-cancer” vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because it was found to prevent liver cancer caused by the hepatitis B virus.Despite the bad press and many conspiracy theories about vaccines, it remains to be an important part in anyone’s health and future.
Q: “Are there are any ways to protect or even prepare myself from cancer? Will a change in lifestyle help?”
Did you know that an unwise diet figures among the leading causes of premature death and chronic diseases? In fact, around 30 to 40 percent of cancer diagnoses can be prevented just by having a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.
For starters, a healthy diet is eating a variety of foods from different food groups that meet your calorie and nutrient needs. It’s also best to avoid processed food of any kind because many of these food items are infused with ingredients that have carcinogenic properties.
The National Foundation for Cancer Research also suggests to load up on anti-cancer micronutrients like vitamins A, C, B, D, K2, and calcium.But a healthy lifestyle is not just about nutrition—it’s also about physical activity. Sedentary behavior has proven to be a risk factor for developing chronic conditions. The National Cancer Institute says that physically active individuals had a 24 percent lower risk for colon cancer. In women, those who moved and exercised more were also 12 percent less at risk for breast cancer. A good measure of physical activity in adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activities in a week.
The cost of cancer treatment
When you’ve done your best to protect yourself from cancer physically, you can go the extra mile and protect yourself financially and mentally.
Cancer treatment is expensive. A cycle of chemotherapy costs P120,000 per session. The chemotherapy alone would cost you a million pesos during the entire treatment duration. Add to that the other medicines that you have to buy, and the series of diagnostic tests and check-ups to monitor your progress.
So if ever life decides to throw you a curve ball, you don’t have to worry about the financial repercussions of your condition if you prepare enough for the rainy days. If your diagnosis, treatment, and recovery are already covered, you can then focus your strength on improving and healing. This is where health insurance comes in. It’s that extra precautionary measure that you can take to secure your future and that of your loved ones.
AXA Philippines, one of the leading life insurance companies in the country, has health insurance plans that will give you just the peace of mind that you need. Health Max provides coverage against 56 major and 18 minor critical illness conditions until age 100 with flexible payment periods and life insurance coverage.
Global Health Access, on the other hand, provides world-class medical coverage in the Philippines and any country in the world. It is a comprehensive worldwide health solution that takes care of your medical needs by providing you access to the very best health options available.
To learn more about AXA’s health insurance products, visit their website.