First freestanding breast cancer care center opens at Centuria Medical Makati
Today’s breast cancer statistics are alarming, especially in the Philippines, where the highest incidence has been recorded in all of Asia.
The Department of Health and the Philippine Cancer Society said that breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in the country, taking 16 percent of the 50,000 diagnosed cancer cases.
Additionally, one out of every four women in the Philippines will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Half of them will die of the disease.
Dr. Norman San Agustin, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and founder and president of Morristown Surgical Associates at the Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey, has a successful practice in the United States dedicated to breast cancer. He was the immediate past chairman of the Comprehensive Cancer Care Program and the Breast Cancer Program at Saint Clare’s Hospital, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center affiliate satellite in New Jersey for about 10 years. He adds that for every minute, one incidence of breast cancer develops and one breast cancer patient dies.
“The sad part is that in the Philippines, 70 percent of those who die of the disease do not receive any kind of treatment,” he laments.
The good news is very early breast cancer detection can result in better treatment outcomes and will require less invasive procedures. Despite this, most patients often think that the disease is immediately synonymous with death and mutilation.
“We have to break the cycle of fear about breast cancer with awareness, correct information, and the appropriate treatment. Most recent statistics show that the survival rate for very early detected breast cancer is 99 percent,” Dr. San Agustin notes.
There are a lot of misconceptions about breast cancer that Dr. San Agustin hopes to correct, and modern approaches to treatment that he seeks to introduce, when he opens his own breast center on Kalayaan Avenue and Salamanca Street in Makati City in April 2016. The Asia Breast Center at Centuria Medical Makati will be the first freestanding for-profit-for-charity ambulatory comprehensive breast cancer care center in the country and the region affiliated with a major cancer institution in the United States that will be dedicated solely to the management of breast diseases.
The center will occupy close to 400 square meters of space on the eighth floor of Centuria. It will be manned by a team of US-trained Filipino physicians led by Dr. San Agustin who has 45 years of experience in medicine and surgery, in affiliation with the Cancer Program of Morristown Medical Center. Morristown is rated as one of the top five hospitals in the greater New York Metropolitan area and one of the top 50 hospitals in the United States by US News & World Report.
A strong advocate for a multidisciplinary approach in the management of breast cancer, Dr. San Agustin has been recognized by the “Best Doctors” ranking service for breast surgery. He envisions the Asia Breast Center as one of the first breast centers outside the United States to be recognized and certified as a legitimate breast center by the American College of Surgeons that will strictly adhere to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) guidelines.
Modern facilities and excellent services from preventive care to early detection and treatment of breast cancer will be made available to the country through the center. Its specific services include early screening tests, radiation therapy, breast and cosmetology services, counseling, patient education, and close post-operative follow-up supportive services. It also provides complementary medical services including a free-standing ambulatory center, a Serenity Suite, a boutique shop, nutritional counseling, and emotional and psychological support.
Among its equipment is the latest 3D Tomosynthesis Mammogam, as well as the General Electric 2-D mammography machine, which has been donated by the Atlantic Health System of Newton Medical Center in the US to the good doctor.
Lydia Nadeau, director of the oncology service line for Atlantic Health System, told the New Jersey Herald in a recent news article: “(Dr. San Agustin) is a long-standing surgeon in our community, and he and his wife dedicate their time to take care of those in his native country, often traveling there during the year.”
She added: “When we were discussing how we can improve our own health care as well our commitment to improve the health of our communities, we thought, what a better way than to donate this machine. The mammography machine has ‘so much useful life left on it and it will be considered state-of-the-art in the Philippines.’”
The center is also involved in charity work. The profits from the unit will go to breast cancer screenings and treatments for indigent women, so they can also have access to quality healthcare.
Helping Dr. San Agustin in this cause is his team of highly trained Filipino doctors including Dr. Sammy Ang, Dr. Ed Santos, Dr. George Bocobo, and Dr. Max Basco as well as private citizens including business leaders Ramon del Rosario Jr. and Jose E.B. Antonio, and Jose L. Cuisia, the Philippine ambassador to the US.
The first beneficiaries of the center are the indigent patients of De La Salle University Hospital.
The establishment of the Asia Breast Center at Centuria Medical Makati is in line with the world-class IT-medical facility’s thrust towards quality outpatient care and the advancement of medical tourism in the Philippines.
“Our vision to revolutionize medical care in the country is now being realized as we partner with exceptional health facilities such as the Asia Breast Center, which is committed to treat and manage the breast conditions of women by using state-of-the-art facilities and services,” said Centuria senior vice president and general manager Rey Dimaano.
Centuria is the first outpatient IT building in the Philippines that offers topnotch outpatient medical care through advanced healthcare facilities and services. With the turnover of clinic spaces now ongoing, the medical arts center will be home to more than 500 doctors’ clinics and a wide range of health support facilities, including a day surgery center, recovery suites, radiology center, and diagnostic laboratory.