Cancer screening among Filipino women alarmingly low
MANILA, Philippines—Screening for breast and cervical cancer among Filipino women could be the lowest in the world, with just 1 percent of women getting themselves tested or having access to the first step to cancer prevention.
Valerie Gilbert Ulep, senior research fellow at the main government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), said at a recent presentation of his study about cancer and its costs that Filipino women are the least screened for cancer in the world.
“Breast and cervical cancer screening are extremely low in the Philippines compared to upper-middle and high-income countries,” Ulep said in his presentation.
“A big portion [of the] country’s cancer burden is preventable,” he said.
“However, it boils down to comprehensive preventative and curative interventions for the population,” he added, citing results of his study.
While other countries have double-digit cancer screening rates for women, the rate for Philippine women is just 1 percent.
The rate in Malaysia and Thailand, neighbors of the Philippines, is 20 percent. “They’re even worried that the rate is low,” Ulep said.
“We are diagnosing cancer patients at a very, very late stage,” he said.
This could be directly linked to the high premature cancer mortality rate in the Philippines which is much higher than its poorer neighbors Cambodia and Myanmar.
“Why is premature mortality rate so high in the Philippines?” Ulep said at his presentation in a forum hosted by a pharmaceutical firm.
“The low [cancer] screening rate reflects the state of preventive care in the Philippines,” he said.