Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was, according to Parkway Cancer Centre Medical Director and Senior Consultant Dr. Ang Peng Tiam.
“Cancer is not a death sentence… It’s very important that the patient must have the will to fight. That’s why we do these talks, it’s very important for us to share with them the medical advances that are taking place,” Dr. Ang shared.
At the Asia CEO Forum at Marriott Hotel Manila’s Diplomatic Hall on September 6, 2019, Dr. Ang shared the latest developments in cancer detection as well as technological and pharmaceutical advancements in treating the disease. He was also joined by three Filipina CEOs who shared their own journeys towards a more healthy lifestyle as they make history in their respective fields.
Ms. Agnes Gervacio, Chief Operating Adviser of MDI, has been spent more than two decades in the telecom and IT industries of Asia. Roughly two years ago, she decided to give lacto-ovo-vegetarianism a chance after hearing about different kinds of vegetarian diets from a fellow speaker. With her new lifestyle, she noticed her skin has become clearer and she has more energy to do the things she loves.
ECHOstore founder and Philippine Coffee Board president Ms. Pacita ‘Chit’ Juan has had her share of heartbreak because of a family member lost to cancer. With the desire to live a better, healthier life, she became a “flexi-tarian” (adhering to a vegetarian diet daily unless she can’t find vegetarian options, especially at events she attends) and started doing yoga with dear friends and colleagues. Today, she is an advocate for healthy and sustainable living as the Southeast Asia Councilor of Slow Food International.
When she was a senior executive at Convergys, the Philippines’ largest private sector employer, Ms. Marife Zamora made a name for herself in the IT industry. In 2011, she was named the Global Filipino Executive of the Year at the Asia CEO Awards. She decided to live a healthier lifestyle to have more time to spend with her family and keep up with them on exciting family trips.
“At the end of the day, we live partly for ourselves — we live partly for our family, we live partly for our friends,” says Dr. Ang, who believes that finding the right motivation to fight cancer is also important.
Dr. Ang Peng Tiam believes in a holistic approach to preventing cancer. He shared that while there are still no proven ways or “magic cure” to prevent all types of cancer altogether, there are several ways to lessen the non-genetic risks of being afflicted by “The Big C”. This includes maintaining an ideal weight by adhering to a healthy diet, eating in moderation (including sugars/carbohydrates and grilled meat), and doing regular exercises; smoking must be avoided; and people must receive the available vaccinations against certain cancers (like the HPV vaccine) if they can afford it.
When it comes to cancer detection, Dr. Ang shared that early detection will give patients a greater chance of beating cancer. One of the worst things about cancer is that it barely has any symptoms. Sometimes, it could be as simple as persistent coughs and colds. He suggests that if something about your health is bothering you for more than two consecutive weeks, it is best to consult a physician on the best course of action.
“Many Stage 4 cancers cannot be cured, but cancer can be cured if it is diagnosed at an early stage. The good news about cancer treatment is that even though we cannot cure it, we now are often able to control the disease very well… We’re talking about treatment with good control of disease and preservation of the quality of life,” he explained.
Dr. Ang also showed the audience the latest in cancer screening, which helps detect cancer early. PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scans are revolutionizing cancer screening by making cancerous mass more visible in the cross-sectional images, which regular CT scans don’t normally show. Cancer cells are more active and they “light up” with the use of a radioactive sugar solution specifically used for PET scans.
Once the cancer has been identified and located, Dr. Ang talked about the various treatments available to patients. Aside from surgery (for acute or sensitive cases), Dr. Ang emphasized non-invasive procedures to cure cancer. He explained that the term chemotherapy doesn’t refer to a single procedure. Instead, it’s a blanket term used to refer to any treatment using chemicals. As pharmaceutical companies continue their research and development, more and more options arrive in the market — ensuring effective treatment for numerous kinds of cancer. Side effects of chemotherapy will also depend on the type of drugs used for the treatment, so hair and weight loss are not always expected when patients undergo chemotherapy. He also showed several examples of successful cancer treatments — actual patients from the Parkway Cancer Centre in Singapore who agreed to be part of his presentation to show that proper treatment and care always yield positive results.
After his keynote speech, Dr. Ang spent a few minutes to answer questions from the audience.
He also spent time debunking common myths about cancer, wherein he explained that biopsies do not cause cancer nor aggravate cancer cells; it is an integral part of cancer detection and there is a proper way of conducting a biopsy. He also clarified that cancer is no longer a death sentence. With the advent of technology in various medical fields, patients now have a bigger chance of beating cancer.