According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer accounts for 8.2 million deaths globally. It’s also the third leading cause of death in the Philippines, next to heart attack and stroke. Nine people are diagnosed with cancer every hour, based on recent data from the Department of Health (DOH) and Philippine Cancer Society.
Early detection increases one’s chances of survival, but not everyone is lucky to have been able to diagnose cancer in its early stages. Even worse, cancer treatment comes with a hefty price tag—something that can leave you financially incapacitated in the long run.
Tens of thousands
Ellen Tordesillas, a veteran journalist and columnist, had her cancer treatment in 2006, before human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) Gardasil was approved by the US FDA. As part of her chemotherapy treatment, she was given prescription for different medicines, namely: Paclitaxel, a drug used to treat ovarian, breast, lung, and other types of cancer; and Filgrastim, an injectable drug that helps produce more white blood cells. In a blog post, she notes that she had spent the following on her chemotherapy:
Taxol (Paclitaxel) – P42,000 per session
Granulokine (Filgrastim) – P7,000 per 300mg vial
Abdominal CT scan – P23,000 per procedure
Other expenses (room, professional fee, etc.) – P36,000 per session
According to GMA News, another treatment often availed by people who can afford instant treatment is oral chemotherapy, which is reportedly what increased Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s chances of recovery.
Philippine Society of Medical Oncology Dr. Jorge Ignacio says oral chemotherapy, which has been long available in the country, is considered three times more effective than conventional chemotherapy. However, the pill doesn’t come cheap, and can set you back at P90,000 to P120,000 a month.