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Stigma lingers on breast cancer —group

A breast care advocate and support organization on Wednesday underscored the importance of raising the public’s awareness on the early detection of breast cancer before it gets worse.

During a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum, Philippine Foundation for Breast Care, Inc. (Kasuso Foundation) volunteer Aileen Antolin said that the stigma about breast cancer should be removed in communities as it could lead to hesitations for early check ups and examining one’s breast.

“Kaya dumadami rin ang cases ng breast cancer na late diagnosis kasi hinihintay nila na maratay muna sila bago sila magpagamot,” she said. 

(The cases of late diagnosis of breast cancer are also increasing because affected individuals wait for their condition to get worse before they get treatment.)

“Mahalaga na maitaas natin ang level ng awareness ng tao pag dating sa early detection kasi ‘yun nga, especially this because is breast, may stigma attached to it… You have to call it for what it really is,” she added.

(It is important that we raise the level of people's awareness when it comes to early detection because this is breast, there is a stigma attached to it.)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the treatment for breast cancer can be highly effective, especially when the disease is identified early.

Its symptoms include a breast lump or thickening; alteration in size, shape or appearance of a breast; dimpling, redness, pitting or other alteration in the skin; change in nipple appearance or alteration in the skin surrounding the nipple; and/or abnormal nipple discharge.

Antolin explained that there are a lot of factors that must be considered as to why Filipinos become hesitant to get checked like the lack of certain areas of oncologists, and laboratories that offer tests for cancer.

“Ang pinakamalaking bulk ng problema ay nasa early detection and awareness. ‘Yun talaga ang mahirap tibagin. Ang laki na ng kailangan mong tibagin na mindset doon in order for them to be encouraged to get into a healthcare system,” she said.

(The biggest bulk of the problem lies in the early detection and awareness. That's really hard to break. You have to change a big mindset in order for them to be encouraged to get into a healthcare system.)

In February, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced the release of a P500 million Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) to the Department of Health (DOH) to aid Filipinos suffering from cancer.

This CAF includes funding of the needed diagnostics and laboratories related to eight priority cancer types namely, including breast cancer.—LDF, GMA Integrated News