Novartis Philippines launched its PIK3CA Testing Program to highlight the burden of breast cancer in the Philippines and the central role that PIK3CA mutation plays in its progression.
Given the low awareness of the harmful effects of PIK3CA mutation, Novartis launched the testing program to educate the public on the clinical importance of early identification of PIK3CA mutation and encourage breast cancer patients and medical oncologists to consider PIK3CA testing. During the event, experts called on patients with advanced breast cancer to get tested to improve treatment outcomes.
“There is a new target in breast cancer, the PIK3CA mutation. Advanced laboratory testing enables doctors to predict which medicines work better and which do not for specific patients. As such, doctors and patients are able to make educated decisions. Moreover, patients save money by not taking a drug that may not work for them,” said Joel Chong, oncology general manager of Novartis Healthcare Philippines.
“Around 40% of breast cancer patients with hormone receptor positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 negative tumors can harbor and test positive for PIK3CA mutation. Their outcomes may improve if they are treated with targeted therapy. I, together with other medical oncologists, will continue to educate and guide our patients so that they can make informed decision that is best for them,” Dr. Josephine Contreras -Tolentino, chief, section of medical oncology and consultant director of the chemotherapy unit of The Medical City.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Filipino women, and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country, next to lung and liver cancer. PIK3CA is the most commonly mutated gene in hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 negative (HR+/HER2-) breast cancer; approximately 40% of patients living with HR+/HER2- breast cancer have this mutation.
PIK3CA mutations are associated with tumor growth, resistance to endocrine treatment, and a poor overall prognosis.
Officials of the partner stakeholders signed the formal agreement to implement the testing program and declared their commitment to promote awareness of the importance of PIK3CA testing and to facilitate testing for patients.
Aside from Tolentino and Chong, also present during the event were Vanessa Ongsue, vice president for medical services of Hi-Precision Diagnostics; Leilani Soriano, manager of The Medical City Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology Laboratory; Dr. Shari Daffodil Francisco, oncology medical director of Novartis Healthcare Philippines; Dr. Jerome Gonzaga, medical advisor for solid tumors of Novartis Healthcare Philippines; and Christine Fajardo, patient engagement head of Novartis Healthcare Philippines.