Cure for skin cancer, not too far in the future
After garnering awards and citations both in the local and international medical scene, who would have not heard of the name Rolando dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz’ invention, a cream that treats and cures Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), is another milestone in his already fruitful career.
According to Dela Cruz, his discovery of DeBCC was after the insistence of one of his client who was suffering from skin cancer. The client pleaded that he use the cream to treat his condition. Although not sure at first, he told the client to come back and using a stronger formulation, the treatment proved to be successful.
However, Dela Cruz knows that further tests needs to be done to prove the efficacy of his new found treatment. It must have been devine providence that he met up with Dr. Eric S.M. Talens in one of Dela Cruz’ medial missions.
Tie-up with medical experts
A graduate of medicine in the University of the Philippines and Chief of the Division of Trauma, Department of Surgery at Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Dr. Talens shares that it was during a coffee break after the mission that Dela Cruz told him about the cream and that he tried it to treat skin cancer. Dela Cruz even showed him some pictures of the treatment process but being a man of science and being a natural skeptic, he told Dela Cruz to put science behind the indigenous treatment. “They (indigenous treatment) don’t come out in the practice of medicine because there is no science to it,” he says and further explains that for Dela Cruz to convince doctors, a study must be done.
“We started looking at patients and treating them, documenting it, measuring them with all the biopsies…we collated the data and it was very encouraging.” From then on, the 14 cases they documented was the start of the continuous awards and recognitions both local and international including the Best Scientific Exhibit, the world’s largest convention for surgeons held at New Orleans in Louisiana U.S.A. last 2007.
“Now we have 39 well-documented cases 16 of which are declared cured.” Dr. Talens explains that for a BCC condition to be declared cured, a period of 5 years after treatment showed no signs or evidence of disease.
He explains that most people who suffer from BCC are the elderly and the treatment before DeBCC came into being was to perform a surgery. And the process of surgery was to remove a portion of the skin surrounding the skin cancer and in some cases will totally deform those affected areas like the face, neck or shoulders (areas usually exposed to the sun). Although surgery proved to be efficient, Dr. Talens cited three major problems. First is when the BCC affected a large skin portion especially in the face, second the process of reconstruction, and lastly, the risk involved. He further relates that some of their patients are those who cannot and do not want to be handled by other institutions because of the above-mentioned considerations. With this, the use of the cream is the only non-surgical option left.
Currently, the clinical studies done by Dr. Talens and other medical experts like Drs. Daniel dela Paz, Orlando Ocampo, Porfirio Tica, and the late pharmacologist Horacio Estrada resulted to 36 case studies and 16 of it completed the 5-year follow-up period and were declared cured. “They (patients) came here na wala na silang option. Sila pa ang nagpupumilit na isama sila sa study.”
Dr. Talens further shares that a Randomized Controlled Trial is being done at University of the Philippines-PGH were a patient blindly selects the treatment (either DeBCC or surgery). “You’ll measure all the results, x-ray, kung may deformity, yung comfort ng patient, titignan namin lahat ng parameters na yun,” he says and so far, the trial accumulated 9 cases already.
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