Cancer is one of the world’s most urgent unmet medical needs, with a massive impact both on society and on the lives of individuals.
In the final phase of the 3-year campaign of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), global healthcare company MSD takes part in the observance of World Cancer Day on February 4, 2019. Anchored on this year’s theme of “#IAmAndWill”, the campaign aims to drive future change in the oncology space by raising awareness, education and action to help save millions against cancer.
Diagnosed cancer cases are expected to leap to more than 20 million by year 2030 worldwide– just barely past a decade from now – which is why it is only right that the global population should give more than a passing thought to a disease that has claimed so many lives across ages and contexts.
In the Philippines, the national government through the Department of Health (DOH) manages a countrywide cancer prevention and control program. Among other significant undertakings of the DOH with the support of private sector organizations is the annual commemoration of Cervical Cancer Consciousness Month that enjoins women to get screened at once and get themselves protected through immunization against HPV or human papillomavirus.
The fact is that cancer deaths happen largely within economically active age groups. The consequences of losing a wage earner, often the sole breadwinner among resource-constrained households, are profound and shattering for families and communities. But there is hope because while cancer remains one of the most significant health challenges today, fewer people die of cancer now more than ever.
Modern medicine has advanced to such a degree that cancer is now being addressed across the continuum of care which includes prevention, as well as timely treatment premised on early diagnosis. Pharmacological solutions are helping hammer away at the health and economic burdens of the disease.
For its part, MSD has been “Inventing for Life”, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world – including cancer.
In the area of oncology, MSD is inventing new ways to treat cancer and transform the paradigm of cancer care with more than 450 studies and clinical trials underway. Since its first oncology product was approved in 1986 by the US Food and Drug Administration, more new and innovative medicines have come out of MSD that manage and control cancer and cancer-related conditions.
Breakthroughs Against Cancer
Vaccines have long eliminated serious diseases like polio and small pox, and are now at the forefront of preventing even cancer.
A case in point is cervical cancer – one of only two vaccine-preventable cancers. This type is a prolific killer in the Philippines as it is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among our country’s women. Nearly 100% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV or human papillomavirus.
To fight for the vision of an HPV-free future especially for women, the company developed the first-ever vaccine to help prevent cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers. The HPV quadrivalent and the nonavalent vaccines available today protect against HPV strains that cause these diseases linked with HPV, including genital warts.
In the critical area of therapeutic medicine, MSD contributes a promising solution to the cancer conundrum through immunotherapy. This immunologic treatment unleashes the body’s defense system to recognize and combat tumor cells. More and more case studies of patients responsive to immunotherapy are demonstrating how the therapy improves patient prognosis and quality of life.
Medical innovations along with stakeholder partnerships and patient-centered programs continue to inspire MSD, that with a shared vision and a mission to save and improve lives, together we can all help to push towards greater health equity and government support to protect populations against brutal, widespread illnesses like cancer.
On World Cancer Day, society not only commemorates loved ones lost but also the hope that through urgent collaborative action, the future will bring better and better outcomes against cancer.