Increasing Accessibility to Integrated Cancer Care in Central Luzon, Philippines

Central Luzon Integrated Oncology Centre (CLIOC) said today that integrated cancer care is key to a smooth patient care journey especially in the Philippines where quality treatments can be scattered across the large country.

Integrated cancer care means bringing together the delivery and management of services related to treatment with patients’ interest as priority, said CLIOC’s General Manager, Jerome Paule.

This helps to reduce the gaps encountered by patients from diagnosis to treatment to post-surgery care. “With integrated cancer care, the patient can easily access various modalities of cancer care such as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, nutritional support and post care treatment all within one shared care model. 

“They do not need to run all over the place in search of  doctors and treatments during a stressful period. “

CLIOC, located in Mother Teresa of Calcutta Medical Center in San Fernando, Pampanga, houses a multi-disciplinary team of specialists that include medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, gynae-oncologists, ear nose and throat (ENT) oncologists and surgical oncologists.

It is the only cancer centre in Central Luzon offering tomotherapy, a radiation technology that allows doctors to target the radiation beams onto the diseased tissue and spare the surrounding healthy tissue from radiation damage.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the Philippines, with more than 92,000 people deaths last year and over 150,000 new cases. With the rising cases, demand for quality and effective cancer treatment becomes more urgent. But not all treatment options are conveniently accessible and some cancer patients have to travel to more populous cities such as Manila or even overseas for treatment. 

Cancer patients also face other issues such as difficulties in finding a centre that provides a comprehensive suite of cancer treatment options and team of cancer specialists within reach. Trying to seek treatment from different doctors and institutions can be also confusing, difficult and increases health care costs.

Mr Paule said CLIOC) hopes to fill the gap in the healthcare system. It is part of Integrated Oncology Centres (IOC) one of Asia’s first region-wide network of cancer centres.

Bringing together cancer treatment modalities for a seamless journey

Mr Paule said about 65% of CLIOC’s patients in Central Luzon come from Pampanga, followed by Bulacan and Bataan at 18% and 10% respectively. 

“We are very excited to be able to serve the cancer patients within these provinces,” he added.

Tapping into IOC’s region-wide collaboration, CLIOC now also provides teleconsultations to patients by expert professionals from other oncology centres under the IOC network in the Asia Pacific region, bringing international standards of care to the Philippines. This is especially beneficial for patients who are eager to consult with experts in other countries and therefore they need not look any further,, according to Mr Paule.

Part of a Regional Network

CLIOC became part of IOC’s regionwide network in 2017 and under the stewardship of IOC, steadily rose to become one of the premier cancer centres in Asia alongside Hong Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. With over 100 doctors and 1000 employees, IOC provides a platform within the network for knowledge sharing and collaboration amongst doctors and healthcare employees as it aims to empower patients and doctors to co-create their treatment journey. The doctors from CLIOC have been part of IOC’s regional sharing sessions including the latest on patient management during Covid-19. 

Mr Eng Aik Meng, IOC’s Chairman, said: “IOC was born out of the passion of doctors, healthcare professionals and investors who wanted to pave the way for delivering integrated cancer care in the region. Currently, there are nine high-quality cancer centres under the IOC network, the latest addition being two centres in Singapore dedicated to breast surgery and imaging. 

“We hope to continue to build our regional network of single-specialty oncology centres in countries where integrated cancer care is not accessible. We also look forward to working with CLIOC to expand its service offerings to further serve the cancer patients in Central Luzon.”

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