Cancer among adults preventable, expert says

Dr. Dennis Sacdalan PNA

Some cancers are genetic in origin but most cancers, especially those among adults, are acquired and can be prevented, an expert says.

Dennis Sacdalan, head of the Cancer Center of Manila Medical Center, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview that there are cancers in adults which are acquired due to environmental exposures, and could be prevented with the right measures.

“According to the Department of Health (DOH), the death toll from cancer for both adults and children is about 66,000 Filipinos per year. Seven adult Filipinos die of cancer every hour. There are 110,000 new cases diagnosed yearly,” he said.

Sacdalan explained the creation of better cancer prevention programs could decrease the emergence of new cancer cases and the mortality rate of cancer.

“For example, tobacco control for lung cancer, and promotion of vaccination for Hepatitis B and HPV (human papillomavirus). Cervical cancer and liver cancer are two cancers that are mainly associated with viral infections. If you do effective vaccination programs, you can dramatically decrease the number of patients with cervical cancer,” he said.

Sacdalan added there are also secondary preventions, which can be performed “to keep cancer from being the third leading cause of death in adults and the fourth leading cause of death in children.”

He said these include screenings like colonoscopy for colon cancer, pap smear for cervical cancer, and mammography for breast cancer.

“If you could create programs that will ensure the target population, meaning those who are in their 40’s and 50’s, they could receive these services and you’ll be able to see a drop in cancer deaths in the future,” he said.

Sacdalan also stressed the importance of having a healthy lifestyle when adults deal with cancer.

“We need to promote better nutrition and ensure that the agriculture sector could provide healthy foods for the general population, promote physical activity, because it is greatly associated with the drop of cancer in mortality,” he said.

While cancer among adults can be prevented, Sacdalan told the PNA it may not be so for certain cancers among children.

“I think genetics plays a great role here, sometimes there are hereditary conditions. If not, in some kids, there could be mutations in the genes, which have developed. I cannot say that it is due to environmental exposures because they’re still young and they’ve lived for just a few years, and this would be a good point for research,” he added. (PNA)