Digestive endoscopy has indeed revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of various gastrointestinal tract (GIT) disorders, especially malignancies. The GIT used to be called the ‘temple of surprises’ with many hidden problems in its inner recesses which could not be detected early with traditional diagnostic modalities.
With the advent of modern endoscopic techniques, early detection of GIT disorders is now possible and therapeutic or curative interventions could also be done with the procedure.
In this issue, we focus on one of the more dynamic medical societies in the country, the Philippine Society of Digestive Endoscopy, which, together with its mother society—the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology, is impressively lifting the medical specialty to a higher level in the country.
It’s also opportune to discuss digestive endoscopy every March since the month has been declared Colon Cancer Awareness Month. I have personally committed to do whatever I can to increase awareness for this killer disease.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains one of the leading killer cancers in the country and worldwide. There is no question that every physician would like the incidence of this cancer to be dramatically reduced; and colonoscopy, as well as the other screening tests for CRC can contribute dramatically to achieve this goal.
With colonic polyps, the precursor of CRCs readily detected by colonoscopy, they can be easily excised during the procedure, literally and figuratively nipping CRC in the bud,
I’m happy for the thousands of lives saved by the timely diagnosis of colonic polyps or the CRC itself. In early cases, surgical resection of CRC is curative.
I wish modern digestive endoscopy was already available several decades earlier. They probably would have saved my two elder brothers from CRC.
Manoy, our eldest brother, succumbed to this disease three years and three months after diagnosis. He underwent extensive surgeries both here and in the United States, and for a while, he was in remission.
We thought the cancer had been licked for good. But after over a year of remission, it came back, with a vengeance. It would not respond even to potent anticancer therapies. He breathed his last at age 59.
My other brother, Francis, also died of colon cancer at age 57, less than six months after diagnosis and even after 11th-hour efforts to save his life.
I’m fortunate to be a beneficiary of digestive endoscopy when I first underwent colonoscopy around eight years ago at Manila Doctors Hospital. Dr. Choy Nolasco performed it on me, with Mon Pesigan giving the intravenous sedation. Choy expertly removed three polyps from my colon, one of which was quite big already and almost ripe to become cancerous tissue in a few years.
It was a life-changing moment for me. And I wish the same for the millions worldwide who are at risk to develop CRC.
RAFAEL R. CASTILLO, MD
March 2018 Health and Lifestyle