by Krystal Paco
Guam - When you're diagnosed with cancer, it takes a team to care for you. FHP's Dr. Aftab Chaudhry, a specialist in hematology and oncology, will serve as a panel member at the upcoming Guam Medical Association Cancer Conference.
Dr. Chaudhry's only been at FHP for a month and already sees up to a dozen cancer patients a day. As he becomes more established at the cancer clinic, he expects to average closer to 20 patients a day, saying, "Basically what we do is I give chemotherapy treatments. I joined FHP in August and what we do, if patients get diagnosed with cancer, we advise them as to what kind of treatments they need, what kind of complications or side affects they will have from treatments. We also ask them about the history and any prevention they can do for the future or for the family," he said.
"When the patient is diagnosed with cancer, generally let's say there's a lump in the breast, they would go to the family doctor and they would order a mammogram and after the mammogram a biopsy is done. And after the biopsy and once their diagnosis is established, they generally come to a medical oncologist for suggestions, and we recommend if the patient is going to need any chemotherapy prior to surgery, or after the surgery. And that is basically done by us and once we recommend that and we work accordingly."
He knows he's only one component of comprehensive care a patient will need once diagnosed with the disease. He said, "Cancer is basically one of those diseases that require comprehensive care. It requires a family physician, a surgeon, it requires medical oncologists like me, radiation oncologists for radiation therapy and it requires every one of us for treatments. During treatments and after treatments we continue the care of the patient and other times there are other supportive services involved 0420 nursing care and also help from financial help like Guam Cancer Care does that for us - helps financing and with referrals off island."
Smoking, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and sun exposure all increase cancer incidents. "Common things to remember about cancer is what you inhale, what you eat, and what you do in your daily life because all these matter," he said.
Throughout the islands he's seeing higher incidents of cancer with betel nut chewers as well as women who fail to get regular pap smears and mammograms. "Cancer in the cervix incidence is higher women generally don't have pap smears done regularly they don't get vaginal exams done regularly same token with breast cancer incidence is higher as well because women especially in the islands around Guam they are not getting frequent checkups and mammograms," he said.
Ultimately, Dr. Chaudhry says early detection is key to surviving any cancer. If you've been smoking for years, he advises you ask your physician for a low-dose ct scan because chest x-rays only detect later stages of cancer.