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Oncology News Central (ONC)Oncologist Writes “Fun” Book on Cancer Care

Navigating the Practical Realities of Oncology in Resource-Limited Settings

In Even Ducks Get Liver Cancer, Dr. Wilfredo Liangco provides a candid look into the evolution of his medical career and the complex landscape of oncology in the Philippines. Through a series of personal essays, Dr. Liangco shares his experiences from medical school to private practice, focusing on the challenges and realities of providing cancer care in a country where resources are often limited. The book not only traces his professional growth and personal reflections but also highlights the broader implications of healthcare disparities.

Key Points:

  • Educational Journey: Dr. Liangco’s journey in medicine began with uncertainty but grew into a passionate commitment to oncology, influenced by his father’s battle with liver cancer.
  • Book Composition: The book comprises 49 essays that span Dr. Liangco’s medical education, residency, and early years in practice, providing insights into both personal and patient experiences.
  • Origin of the Title: The title, Even Ducks Get Liver Cancer, originates from an offhand remark in a medical textbook, symbolizing the ubiquity of cancer and setting the tone for the candid and personal narratives within.
  • Clinical Practice during the Pandemic: Dr. Liangco discusses the challenges of practicing oncology during the pandemic, shedding light on the resilience and adaptability required in healthcare.
  • Healthcare Disparities: The essays highlight significant disparities in access to cancer treatments in the Philippines, where high costs and limited insurance coverage often leave patients responsible for the majority of their medical expenses.
  • Financial Strains: Many patients face severe financial burdens, with some resorting to selling assets like land to afford treatment, a testament to the dire economic impacts of healthcare inequities.
  • Government and Healthcare Policies: Slow improvements in healthcare policies by the Department of Health are noted, though challenges remain substantial.

“Who would derive comfort from that? And that became the book’s title. I wanted to show the evolution of someone who, at the start of his training, did not have very good bedside manners but who, after two years of experience and talking to many patients, has evolved to have more empathy and to care for them.”
– Dr. Liangco, reflecting on how an early encounter with a patient shaped the title of his book and his growth as an oncologist

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