FATHER Rector Tamerlane Lana, O.P. led the groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of the Benavides Cancer Institute of the UST Hospital’s ambitious program to make UST a center for cancer treatment and research in the country.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III, a UST alumnus, called the cancer institute “a dream that has come of age,” during the groundbreaking rites last Sept. 2. Every cancer specialist’s dream will now be fulfilled, said Dr. William Olalia, UST Hospital (USTH) chief operating officer.
“The hospital’s patients will no longer have to go to a different hospital for supplemental treatment,” he said.
Olalia said some doctors had been pushing for a cancer center for 15 years now. He hopes that the institute will be fully operational by March 2006.
The institute commemorates the 400th death anniversary of UST founder Archbishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P., after whom the institute is named, Fr. Lana said.
The institute has its advanced facilities, professional service, and upgraded research programs. The institute will also be open to non-Thomasian doctors and researchers inclined toward cancer care.
But the institute will not only treat cancer patients like the University of the Philippines Cancer Center.
“It (institute) will also serve as a training facility for doctors who want to specialize in cancer treatment,” Olalia said.
In an interview with The Philippine Star, USTH chief executive officer Dr. Cenon Alfonso emphasized the need for research in cancer care.
“Look at Stanford, MD Anderson, City Hope, all of these world centers for cancer care have strong foundation in research,” he said. “Without research, one cannot claim to have a niche in cancer care.”
Alfonso added that the hospital administration has big aspirations for the institute.
“The entire idea is to make this the hub of cancer treatment, research, and total training program,” he said.
The four-story building, situated in front of the hospital, will house state-of-the-art cancer equipment, Olalia said.
Cancer is the second most common disease found in the Philippines. The disease, with more than 10 subtypes, affects one out of five Filipinos.