MANILA, Philippines - Collateral damage. In contemporary parlance, this refers to negative incidental or secondary effects of a maneuver. But while in the past, this was customarily used in relation to military operations, its use has become colloquial so that it is now applied in relation to a variety of situations.
In the matter of breast and other types of cancers, the damage to surrounding healthy cells in the course of destroying the cancer cells may be referred to as collateral damage. Cancer treatment is a war against malignant cells where treatment modalities are dependent on the stage of the disease. Thus, it is expected that as the cancer becomes more advanced, stronger medicines are also employed. But because the usual oncology drugs are unable to distinguish between “good” and “bad” cells, all cells are harmed or destroyed during the course of treatment. Consequently, there is a magnification of negative side effects and deterioration of a patient’s quality of life.
Fortunately for some advanced breast cancer patients, targeted cancer therapy is now an option that can significantly improve survival rates. “The objective of targeted therapy is to stop the signaling system of cancer cells,” says Dr. Antonio Villalon, top medical oncologist and Cancer Institute director of the St. Luke’s Medical Center.