According to statistics released by the World Health Organization in 2012, cancer is the cause of 15 percent of all human deaths, and affects some 14 million sufferers a year. With over 100 different forms of the disease currently known to scientists, most people live in fear of one day being diagnosed with this powerful illness.
Although many forms of cancer are now curable, scientists claim that many potential sufferers remain uninformed about the causes, preventative methods and treatment of cancer, despite the rapid medical advances being made in the fight against it.
Women, in particular, have particular reason to fear the disease. Breast cancer is possibly the most common cancer in the world. Cervical cancer, too, is the world’s fourth most common cause of cancer, and the fourth highest killer in female cancer patients.
The United States’ Department of Health advises that a high-quality mammogram plus a clinical breast exam is the most effective way to detect breast cancer at an early stage. Most national health organizations the world over also suggest that females over the age of 25 have regular cervical smear tests. Many doctors also advocate healthy lifestyles, exercise, diets full of fresh fruit and vegetables as preventative means of combating the disease. Yet, despite all of this, female patients often still feel that there is a stigma attached to reaching out for treatment in suspected cancer cases.
It is little wonder, then, that so many of the planet’s finest medical minds are currently finding ways to give cancer treatment a more human face. Dr. Paik Nam-sun, director of the Ewha Womans University Cancer Center, is certainly one of these. Ranked as of the “Top 100 Health Professionals” by the International Biographical Centre of Cambridge, Dr. Paik is considered a pioneer in his field.
Ewha Womans University is the world’s largest all-female university and its medical unit has attained the internationally-recognized Joint Commission International (JCI) Quality Approval. Since it first opened in March 2009, the cancer center has grown into Korea’s leading hospital for women’s cancer treatment. It recently celebrated its 5thanniversary by holding a campaign for women’s health, with the slogan, “Making Women Happy, Building a Healthy Society.” To herit the national tradition of educating, studying, while also treating women, they provide visiting ‘Health Seminars and free Medical Examinations’every month on a regular basis. Ewha Women’s University Cancer Center for Women strives to fulfill the role and responsibility and will continue to maintain this Campaign to be the representative national hospital for women’s cancer treatment.
Dr. Paik explains that although there are plenty of cancer clinics in Korea, the fact that his is the only one that only treats female patients makes it very special indeed. The university dates back 128 years and its hospital was established 127 years ago. The cancer center, however, is still fairly new, and some have been surprised at how quickly it has become a leading cancer center in such a short time.
In addition to detection and cure, however, Dr. Paik has made a name for himself by pioneering methods that ensure female patients do not have to endure the disfiguration caused by operations to remove malignant growth in breast cancer cases. In many cases, the entire breast has to be removed to remove the danger threatened by spreading cancerous cells.
If doctors can actually retain much of the breast when they remove malignant growths, says Dr. Paik, they can often get a head start when it comes to reconstruction. He calls this method “breast conservation.”
Indeed, the success of this form of medical care has been unprecedented. The center claims that 10,000 patients visited in 2013, and international patients from places such as the Middle East, North America, Mexico, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and southern Asia have come to receive treatment here. This is really meaningful in collecting the breast cancer patients from abroad. It signifies the quite different quality of life whether the patient gets the total mastectomy or the breast conservation surgery. Sometimes while treating the patients we simultaneously reconstruct the breast, which is so-called the Oncoplastic surgery. This means Korean breast cancer treatment result is top all over the world.
As a response, Dr. Paik has taken to learning foreign languages in order to be able to communicate with his multicultural patients. He currently speaks enough Russian and Arabic to be able to ask patients key questions, and is also a student of Japanese, English, Chinese and German. For international women concerned by their condition, hearing a few phrases in their native languages from a Korean doctor can be exceptionally soothing.
According to Dr. Paik, though, treatment is only part of a hospital’s care service package. Providing education, information and therapy for patients is equally important. He says, “Our website is a great resource of videos and downloadable books about women’s health care initiatives. We also organize excursions and counselling sessions for patients who have undergone stressful operations.”
Attaining the one of Korea’s top clinics does not mean that Ewha’s cancer center is resting on its laurels, however. Dr. Paik explains that government subsidies of 2 billion won per year are being ploughed into relentless research and development efforts, and that a new hospital plan is currently in the pipelines. It should be completed by 2017, says Dr. Paik – a sign, perhaps, that cancer sufferers have a powerful ally in their fight against this debilitating disease.
Dr. Paik says his special hobbies are singing jazz that makes his heart relaxed, playing golf on weekends, and reading and writing poems, which he gives his patients, residents, and fellows from time to time.