With a greater awareness of the complexity of comprehensive care of a patient with cancer, a handful of well-intentioned young men and women fresh from their post-graduate medical stint abroad found it necessary to optimize the care of patients with cancer as a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the national health picture, was rising to alarming proportions. In 1968, the Central Tumor Registry of the Philippines confirmed these data and reported them before the international fora. Faced with the shortage of cancer oriented physicians, especially trained oncologists, these doctors opened a new era of cancer care by organizing themselves into the Philippine Society of Oncologists on October 16, 1964 in Quezon City.
The founding fellows of the society were inducted at the Holiday Inn, Pasay City on December 11, 1964. They elected the following officers. Dr. Leon Lopez, president; Dr. Antonio Cabral, vice-president; Dr. Erlinda Novales, secretary-treasurer, The following were elected as council members: Dr. Manuel Borja, Dr. Generoso Basa, Dr. Luciano Sotto, Dr. Teodoro Nuguid, Dr. Angel Enriquez, Dr. Angel Estanislao and Dr. Augusto Ramos.
Dr. Leon Lopez served from 1964-1968 and was succeeded by Dr. Antonio Cabral from 1968-1970, followed by Dr. Manuel Borja from 1970-1972 and Dr. Augusto Ramos from 1972 – 1983. Because of national events and crises, personal illnesses and even deaths, the activities of the society were interrupted. In 1984, then vice president Dr. Teodoro Nuguid, took it upon himself to review the society from its protracted hibernation, when it was confirmed that the president had taken up permanent residence abroad. He was elected president by the council and he served from 1984 to 1986, with Dr. Generoso Basa as vice-president and Dr. Elinda Novales as secretary-treasurer.
The mission statement of the Society was a medical professional organization devoted to the integration of the various disciplines in the study and treatment of cancer, promotion of a better understanding of cancer control, to stimulate and attain a level of specialized knowledge and skill in both theory and practice, applicable to better cancer patient care.
In 1984-1986, Drs. Nuguid and Basa revitalized and restructed the constitutional framework of the Society and opted for new standards and philosophy – excellence of thought and quality of effort permeating into the practice of the specialty. The two hallmarks of the Society were made manifest in the first annual meeting after more than 10 years of inactivity.
The first meeting was held at Manila Garden Hotel, Makati in November 1985. Membership in the Society increased by leaps and bounds. There were 25 members who were inducted in March 1985, 9 new members in July 1985 and 9 members in November 1985. In December 1986, during the Annual Convention, 17 additional members were inducted. The marked increase in membership augurs well for the healthy growth of a society that is devoted to the conquest of cancer through a multidisciplinary approach.
Since the revival in 1985, the PSO has held a yearly convention. The first Congress on Cancer held on November 27 – 28, 1987 at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila was spearheaded by the PSO and participated in by the Philippine Society of medical Oncology, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of the Philippines and the Philippine College of Surgeons. Special lectures were delivered by three foreign guests and more than two dozen scientific papers were presented in six scientific sessions.
The Congress on Cancer has been held every 3 years, with the fourth held on December 5 – 7, 1996 at the Westin Philippine Plaza. This was a joint project of the Philippine Society of Oncologists (PSO), the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO), the Philippine College of Surgeons (PCS), the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists in the Philippines (SGOP), Philippine Society of Pathologists (PSP), Philippine Radiation Oncology Society (PROS), Pain Society of the Philippines, and the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID).
A consensus statement on the management of the different malignancies has been participated in by various specialties working in the management of cancer. The protocols for management of Breast and Lung Cancer have been published in MIMS.
The Handbook in Clinical Oncology, a reference book for students as well as clinicians have been published in 1996. Other publications of the PSO include the Philippine Journal of Oncology and the Oncology Newsletter.
In a rapidly changing medical and social society, the opportunities for acquisition of newer knowledge and applied technology required the need for constant improvement and development to effectively manage the cancer patient. With the full cooperation of the members of the society and those of the allied oncological specialty societies, the focus on the critical objectives of cancer control (prevention and treatment) has always been considered foremost. With the recognition of the need for a multidisciplinary approach in the management of the cancer patient, the efforts of Dr. Nuguid set the tone for active participation.
Since the Society was organized in 1964, the members of the Philippine Society of Oncologists were the primary source through which both private and government agencies sought collaborative and cooperative sharing of cancer expertise, manpower and institutional information dissemination. The Society was involved in the national cancer control program, with members providing the direction, content and phase of development, as well as facilities for rehabilitation and networking, to ensure effective cancer care delivery. Foremost in the frontier were Dr. Augusto Sarmiento, Dr. Bienvenido Lapuz, Dr. Roberto Reodica, Dr. Teodoro Nuguid and Dr. Emilio Abello, Jr.
On February 28, 1997, the PSO was incorporated and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
At present, the PSOI has a total of 267 members of various oncologic subspecialties. The first PSO Directory was published in 1998 to ensure an open communication between the Society and its members, as well as to facilitate communication between members particularly in the practice of oncology.
In an effort to bring the Society closer to its members and to realize its various objectives, the PSO acquired its Secretariat and Office at Unit 803, North Cathedral Heights Complex Bldg, at St. Luke’s Medical Center, E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon City on June 10, 1998. The PSO Secretariat has been the venue of the Executive Council monthly meetings as well as those of other committees.
In July 1999, the first National Cancer Research Forum was held in response to the challenge of Dr. Pacita Zara, DOST. The different subspecialties presented their flagship researches, with opportunities for collaboration between the different specialties.
On June 10, 2000, the first PSOI Mid-year Scientific Meeting was held in Subic in the form of an outreach, participated in by members of the PSOI and those of the Bataan, Olongapo and Zambales Medical Societies. Two other outreach activities were also held – one in Tacloban, with doctors, nurses and midwives from the province of Leyte as participants and another in Talisay, Batangas, participated in by health workers, lay leaders and constituents of Talisay. As part of the continuing medical education of PSOI members, a round table conference is held once or twice a month dealing on various topics of importance to the oncologists.
In July 2000, the PSOI Office and Secretariat was renovated, with provision for a library, which can be used by its members. Charcoal portraits of the past presidents of the PSOI adorn one wall.
The PSOI is also publishing an updated directory of its members, for distribution during the 16th PSOI Annual Convention and 5th Cancer Congress.