Renowned Filipino doctor in the US to open the Philippines’ first and only freestanding, For-Profit-for-Charity breast cancer clinic at Centuria Medical Makati, Philippines

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 4 women in the Philippines will develop Breast Cancer in their lifetime.  Half of them will die from 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 ten years.  He adds that in 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 from the disease do not receive any kind of treatment,” he said.

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 survival rate for very early detected breast cancer is 99 percent,” Dr. San Agustin pointed out.

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 in the Philippines in April 2016: the Asia Breast Center at Centuria Medical Makati.

 

Comprehensive breast cancer care center

This will be the first freestanding For Profit-For-Charity ambulatory comprehensive 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 5 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, 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.’”

 

Profit-for-charity center

Aside from its high-quality service and advanced features, 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 U.S.

The first beneficiaries of the center will be indigent patients of De La Salle University Hospital.

“We are aware of many women’s fatalistic attitude towards their health because of poverty and lack of access to health care. Generally, Filipino women tend to stay in denial which then leads to late diagnosis, poor treatment, and ultimately a high mortality rate,” Dr. San Agustin said.

Critical to a successful breast cancer treatment is early detection that can only be done through regular self-breast examinations and screenings such as mammography. For Dr. San Agustin, “awareness about the disease, early diagnosis and immediate treatment are keys to fighting breast cancer. This is the only way to make sure your treatment will have the best results, will be minimally invasive and less disruptive.”

Centuria at the forefront of quality outpatient care and medical tourism

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 offer 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.

Centuria also features medical concierge services such as consultation scheduling, shuttle and hotel bookings and flight arrangements for the convenience of patients.

Located in Kalayaan Avenue and Salamanca Street in Makati City, Centuria Medical Makati will be operational in 2016.

Photo 3: The Asia Breast Center is scheduled to open in April 2016 at the 8th floor of Centuria Medical Makati in Century City, Kalayaan Avenue, Philippines (Photo by Patrick-Bingham-Hall)