Archive for the ‘cancer’ Category

Actress Farrah Fawcett hospitalized for cancer

April 7, 2009

Three years after her cancer became quiescent after treatment, Farrah Fawcett, the celebrity well-known for being one among the “Charles Angels,” is back in the hospital to address medical concerns related to her illness. The 62-year old TV star who sought experimental treatment for anal cancer in Germany is in a Los Angeles Hospital recuperating.

Having had a remission in 2007 after being managed with chemotherapy and radiation at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Farrah is said to be suffering from liver metastasis.

The popular actress who has a documentary “A Wing and a Prayer,” being readied for showing , is supported by her ex-partner Ryan O’ Neal, her father, and friends Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith of the “Charles Angels” fame. (Photo Credit:

Anal Carcinoma

Anal cancers are epithelial tumors, mostly differentiated squamous cell carcinomas which account for about 2 percent of gastrointestinal cancers reported yearly in the United States. An estimated 5,000 new cases are diagnosed in 2008 according to the American Cancer Society.

Most cases are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, the common etiologic agent of the common wart. Aside from HPV, risk factors that may predispose to anal carcinoma include multiple partners, immunosuppression, smoking, and chronic lesions in the anal canal.

Depending on the histology and stage of the disease, the cancer is treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery, or in combination. About 10% of those treated develop metastasis, the spread of the tumor to distant organs which brings a bad prognosis. =0=


Patrick Swayze’s lung infection clears

January 16, 2009

I feel so happy for American actor Patrick Swayze who has weathered a bout of pneumonia which required him to stay in the hospital. He says he is on his way to recovery and is determined to keep his health. A victim of metastatic pancreatic cancer, the brave actor hangs in a balance as he battles the effects of disease and treatment, the subject of a prime-time incisive emotionally-charged interview with Barbara Walters.

At 56 years old, Patrick has more to accomplish in the face of his illness. As the possibility of death hovers, his will to live remains high—something all of us should admire and derive inspiration from. From all over the world, Patrick has a lot of support and outpouring of love from those who care. His prognosis for a long survival isn’t good. As cancer wastes away his body, he stars in “The Beast,” an A&E television drama which starts in January 15, 2009.

Patrick’s situation isn’t unfamiliar. Having been treated with chemotherapy and having survived at least five (5) bouts of pneumonia, I can sympathize with what he has gone through. It is a tough position to be— especially if the pneumonia impairs breathing or if it augurs the advance of the tumor. I’m humbled to see him frankly share his lethal illness for the world to see.

Everyday is precious. Those fighting malignancies know. Being alive on borrowed time unencumbered by lung infection and unpestered by fear is a gift beyond what words can describe. (Photo Credit: Michael Muller/ AP )=0=


Cory’s EDSA II apology opens controversies & distrust among Filipinos

December 24, 2008

Calling the EDSA II revolution a mistake, Corazon (Cory) Aquino, one of the leaders of the movement which ousted former Pres. Joseph (Erap) Estrada from power has brought the nation into new controversies. The sudden confession of the ailing former president opened wounds— sowing confusion among doubting Filipinos who bewailed the endemic poor leadership in the national government.

Rather than bridging the often-repeated “reconciliation” among warring political parties, the demure housewife and former chief executive unwittingly exposed the short-sightedness and immaturity of leaders who stood as huge obstacles to the progress of the country. There were those who surmised if cancer and treatment had put her on tremendous strain; her ability to think sanely as before might have taken a beating.

As a devout practitioner of Catholicism, the former president who’s trying to define her legacy as an infuential public servant may have scored high on matters of faith, but she has placed the people in a void of uncertainty whose damage is too early to quantify. The effects are likely to cause lasting shockwaves on how politics will be played in government affairs like the next presidential election. They will cut across the way people will view what is morally right and wrong as they rule over the scandals that see no end.

By seeking Estrada’s forgiveness, Cory repudiated the collective action of her party and those who pushed for an end of blatant thievery, corruption and ineptness during and after Estrada’s administration. The damning evidence of incompetence and plunder laid bare during the 6 years of trial reduced the public to docility and silent acquiescence—- a treacherous problem of Filipinos no wanted to touch.

Like a modern-day soap opera, Estrada’s dizzying legal battle and his privileged imprisonment shown in TVs, radios, and newspapers ended in a conviction hailed by the people. But it was quickly reversed by Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo (GMA)— herself, a sore symbol of almost all things that had gone wrong with the country. Many believed GMA, the current prexy with an outrageously low approval rating of negative (-30) cleverly pardoned Estrada for political convenience. It was unclear though whether Cory’s apology to Estrada was linked to her frustraion over GMA’s mishandling the government. Cory called on her to resign amidst uncurbed corruption as the wagons of Estrada’s political come-back had rolled in from the first station.

Because of Cory’s change of heart, there are deepening doubts on whether Filipino leaders are up for the job of steering the country to better times. In spite of the early justifications and defense for the widow of Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, her position strengthens the chance of the come-back of the Estrada and his “weather-weather” gang. The Filipinos are left in an impasse: Wala na ba talagang ibang mga magagaling at matitino?

The demoralizing effect of Cory’s declaration puts the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) leadership, a staunch supporter of EDSA II on the defensive. It revives anew the questions on church-state separation and the constitutionality of the power take-overs which left a serious lingering leadership vacuum in all political fronts.

Most of all, it irreparably damaged the Cory brand of uprightness and wisdom she shared with her martyred husband Ninoy Aquino, leaving Filipinos one less of a person to trust and emulate. (Photo Credits: Joe Galvez; Marcial Pontillas21; Marcial Pontillas21; gmaresign; Marcial Pontillas21; Marcial Pontillas21)=0=


Cancer races to be #1 disease killer in 2010

December 10, 2008

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that cancer will lord as the leading cause of death by 2010. The disclosure predicts that if trends continue, by 2030 new cancer diagnosis can reach 27 million, jacking up the number of sufferers to 75 million worldwide. A staggering 17 million of them are expected to die in that year surpassing the top killer: cardiac diseases.

It has been noted that cancer worldwide is on the rise, eclipsing the upward climb of infections and heart diseases. Countries like China, Russia, Indonesia, and India are known to have a huge smoking population. It is believed that tobacco-smoking in developing countries is the main reason for the increase in cancer cases, mostly in developing countries where at least 40% of smokers reside. Population growth and better disease recognition also add to fresh cancer diagnoses which are expected to reach 12 million this year.

Country/%/# of Smokers in Millions
Malaysia————2.90%——– —-3.65
ASEAN Countries–Total————- 125.8
Source: Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) Philstar (09/04/07, Crisostomo, S)

Cancer is one of the greatest untold health crises of the developing world…Few are aware that cancer already kills more people in poor countries than HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. And if current smoking trends continue, the problem will get significantly worse,” said Dr. Douglas Blayney, president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

“This is going to present an amazing problem at every level in every society worldwide,” added Peter Boyle, director of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. —Reuters (12/10/08)

The concern for the cancer problem is real. Though it is potentially preventable and treatable among the major life-threatening chronic diseases, malignancies are blamed for 1 in 8 deaths worldwide. With the rising cost of medical services and the sharp increase of those who need care, treatment for cancer will over-burden the healthcare services.

Many countries worldwide aren’t prepared. The medical infrastructures needed to manage cancer patients are lacking or virtually non-existent. Governments are therefore urged to embark on aggressive cancer prevention programs, grassroots anti-smoking and anti-cervical cancer campaigns among others, to combat the emerging top killer. (Photo Credits: Andreia; Laura la Fataliste)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “The Death Clock and the Dangers of Smoking” Posted by mesiamd at 10/22/2008; “Cancer races to be #1 disease killer in 2010” Posted by mesiamd at 12/11/08.


Quotes to ponder

June 9, 2008

The inflation rate will still go up before it goes down and there is a very good chance that it will breach 10 percent. The ten percent is an important threshold. Beyond this level, the psychology of the people changes and it becomes more difficult to control their expectations of price increases.”

-Cayetano Paderanga, UP economist who predicts the difficulty of controlling inflation in what analysts call RP’s brewing “perfect economic storm.” abs-cbnNewsOnlineI/AFP (06/09/08).

Life is not a battle. I love it; I want more of it. That’s all I ask, just a little more.”

-Rudy Fernandez, Filipino actor shortly before he died of periampullary cancer on June 7, 2008. PDI (05/14/08, Velarde, EG)

“You may be a Frenchman, but you can’t outthink a Filipino.”

-Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile rebuking Hubert D’Aboville, spokesman of Joint Foreign Chamber and president of European Chamber of Commerce for urging Pres. Gloria Arroyo not to renegotiate government contracts with independent power producers or allow amendments to the Electric and Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). Enrile interprets this as foreign interference to RP’s legislative process. (06/06/08, Uy, V.)

Sen. Edward Kennedy Has Brain Cancer and 46 Million Americans Don’t Have Health Insurance

May 23, 2008

Dr. Augusto Mesia, a Filipino-American pathologist in Astoria New York shares his thoughts on Sen. Edward Kennedy who has malignant glioma, a brain tumor that is “treatable but not curable.” A Kennedy will certainly get the best treatment regimen in the world. A single tumor-contracting drug that costs $100,000 a year is a drop in the bucket, but heartbreak stuff for the 46 million Americans who do not have health insurance and for the people in countries less prosperous than America. Dr. Mesia himself battles a tough, lingering Auto-Immune Hemolytic Anemia.

When Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia of cerebral hemorrhage in 1945, many Americans were caught by surprise. In those days people usually didn’t pry on the lives of public figures as they do now. The large majority of Americans didn’t know that in the White House, the US president had been sick for a while, an aftermath of years of vigorous work and smoking while he suffered from leg paralysis, thought to be the effect of poliomyelitis.

Time has changed since the death of FDR. Today, the world seems to insist in knowing what goes on in the lives of famous personalities. And people are more willing than ever before, to share important bad news. This new wave of frankness somehow liberates the burdened soul when someone gets sick.

Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti contracted pancreatic cancer and the public knew of its grim implications months before he died. Actor Patrick Swayze had love, support and prayers when he announced having the same disease. Prior to chemotherapy, Pres. Cory Aquino received a deluge of “get well” wishes when she was reported to have colonic cancer. Sen. Edward (Ted) Kennedy had Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) doctors saying that he has a malignant brain tumor growing in his left parietal lobe, the part of the cerebral hemisphere that controls complex functions like movement and language.

Such hideous reports of ill health have been generally met with sadness and concern by the public. Theories abound. Conjectures on the clinical course, lethality, and dreaded complications of disease diffuse into the public psyche like prismatic light rays in a clairvoyant’s eye.

In Kennedy’s case, there are remarkable expressions of concern. Setting aside differences, his friends, political adversaries and even people unknown to him, are like a “family” in their wish for his full recovery. The Kennedy clan, not stranger to tragedies which repeatedly rocked the family, is fully supportive as the senator girds for his personal battle with cancer.

Many recognize Kennedy’s significant contributions to public service. For almost five decades, as a secular libertarian, the senator advocates for controversial pro-choice in abortion and roots for same sex marriage. He displays a patriarchal leadership among Democrats after his brothers Pres. John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the feuding candidates in his party for this fall’s presidential election are united in their support for the ailing senator. Sending his get well wish, President George W. Bush said,

Laura and I are concerned to learn of our friend Senator Kennedy’s diagnosis. Ted Kennedy is a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength and powerful spirit. Our thoughts are with Senator Kennedy and his family during this difficult period. We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery.” (AP, 05/21/08, Johnson,G.)

Sifting through more lab tests done on Kennedy, the Boston doctors mull on the right approach to proceed with treatment. In spite of the medical sophistication at their disposal, the doctors admit that the brain tumor (labeled by pathologists as malignant glioma,) is formidable, even for someone so influential like the senator. There’s no doubt however that he’ll get the best medical care the world can offer and the success in fighting the disease will depend on some factors that aren’t in the usual sphere of the doctors’ control—- tumor type, size, pathologic grade, location, patient age, and response to treatment.

Commenting on Kennedy’s condition, Dr. Suriya Jeyapalan, a neuro-oncologist of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts remarked,

It’s treatable but not curable. You can put it into remission for a while but it’s not a curable tumor.” (AP 05/21.08, Johnson,G.)

Dr. Jeyapalan has a point. In recent years, doctors have gained expansive knowledge to extend life and improve survival among those who suffer vicious forms of cancers. As old treatments are refined and drugs rediscovered, there’s increasing precision in surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy (whichever treatment combination applies.)

Veering away from the old “hit or miss” cancer therapies, there are smart target drugs which interfere on genes to frustrate the rapid divisions of malignant cells. There are designer medicines to suppress blood vessel proliferations which sustain tumor growth or cause the spontaneous death of wayward abnormal cells.

Yet, cancer regimens aren’t all magic silver bullets. Success isn’t guaranteed and treatments can be quite expensive. For example, Avastin, an anticancer medicine which blocks vascular growth in tumors may have a tag price of nearly $100,000 per year, per patient. Whatever medicines Kennedy will receive in his own treatment, he has the advantage of having the best healthcare on his fingertips—unlike those who can’t afford it.

The number of Americans who doesn’t have good access to healthcare is huge. Forty-six (46) million people in USA do not have any medical insurance coverage. The staggering number is half the entire Filipino population. Considering America has affluence, inventiveness and grit, it boggles the mind why this happens.

The United States hasn’t come up with a solution to stop the steep rise of prescription medicines’ costs. There’s hemorrhaging of the government-sponsored Medicare and Medicaid programs whose budget could run out before the baby boomers die, rendering the system bankrupt. It’s not surprising therefore that illness remains a fearsome foe in the American heartland.

With these, it seems there’s no need to see a poor country outside America to know the increasing healthcare problems the world faces. Even the planet’s wealthiest country has people who’re poor and can’t afford healthcare. These people feel panicky when bad news like Kennedy’s cancer hit the headlines. They’re scared thinking sickness can be their own bedfellow— a stalking death sentence which threatens, a pathway which gives way to debts, a time which inspires supplications for a miracle.

As worrisome as the lack of healthcare which distresses the United States, the world sends a heartfelt get-well wish for Sen. Edward Kennedy. At the hospital in Boston, workers and family members applaud for his complete recovery and survival. Even the family dogs Sunny and Splash meet him wagging their tails to send in the same message of hope. ==0==