DAVAO City hosts the only government-run pediatric oncology unit in Mindanao and the biggest in the country, and yet, it has the highest dropout rate for treatment of children with cancer.
This is the paradox that pediatric oncologist Dr. Mae Concepcion J. Dolendo, House of Hope Foundation for Kids with Cancer Inc. program director, put forward to the Davao City Council, as she urged the councilors on February 13 to institutionalize help for pediatric cancer patients.
Dolendo said many children who have been dropping out from treatment and are refusing treatment at Southern Philippines Medical Center are from Davao City.
"What we would like to ask the City Council is to institutionalize help for the pediatric cancer particularly for Dabawenyos. I am very sad to say that kids would drop out treatment, who refused treatment, most of them are from Davao City, and I do not know why, because all the help that we want to give them, we have already have given," she said.
She said the House of Hope can identify patients who really need financial help.
"The most difficult part is at diagnosis, this is the time when they have finished all of their assistance and... they cannot feed the rest of the family, this is the most difficult time and I think this is what challenges Dabawenyos. I was hoping that for Dabawenyos to give assistance to the patient and to partner with the foundation that can oversee and identify these patients to implement this policy and to document this policy as well," Dolendo said.
During her speech, Dolendo said childhood cancer is difficult to prevent but early detection increases the chance of cure.
She said acute leukemia and retinoblastoma are among the most common types of pediatric cancer in Mindanao.
She said in 2017, SPMC received 347 new cases, wherein 250 or 72 percent were malignant and 77 or 22 percent were nonmalignant.
For malignant cancer out of 250 patients, 58 percent are alive, 21 percent expired, eight percent abandoned treatment, 12 percent refused treatment and one percent, long-term follow-up patients.
For non-malignant cases out of 77, 91 percent or 70 are alive, six patients or eight percent have expired, and only one abandoned treatment.