Media asked: Help dispel myths, lies about cancer
Cancer awareness advocates urged media producers on Tuesday to come up with programs that would inform the public about how they could better deal with people fighting the disease.
According to ICanServe Foundation founder Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, there are many misconceptions about cancer, especially breast cancer, that influence patients’ decisions to seek treatment.
She said that among poor communities, those with cancer forgo seeing doctors since they believed it meant only additional costs that would go to waste because they’d die anyway.
That’s why, she said, media could help address this problem through programs that showed how to better deal with the disease.
“We want popular, accessible media like telenovelas to dispel myths and show people how they (cancer patients) should be treated,” Alikpala said.
“Sometimes, villains are portrayed to have had cancer. Is it a punishment? It is not,” Alikpala said.
She said raising cancer awareness through TV programs can be as subtle as showing a character going to the doctor or another encouraging someone to seek treatment.
Data from the International Association of Cancer Registries said there are around 25,000 new cases of breast cancer in the Philippines annually.
When detected, more than half of these cases are already in advanced stages 3 and 4.
While the country has yet to have a national breast cancer screening program, Alikpala’s organization has begun working with four cities in Metro Manila to combat the disease through early detection and the assignment of “patient navigators.
More than providing logistical support, these patient navigators — who are either health or social workers—help guide those with cancer in dealing with the disease until remission.
To date, each of the partner cities in Metro Manila have five patient navigators assigned to their health centers, except for Taguig which has 34.
Alikpala said her group hoped that more local governments would follow its model, which was found highly effective in the case of Taguig as it helped increase doctor visits, which resulted in the disease’s mortality rate to be reduced by around one-third.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.