Breast cancer detection and treatment in India: Newer oral therapies, innovations
While the number of cases of breast cancer are increasing, newer innovations are reducing disease burden. Newer oral therapies are intended to enhance survival and quality of life of patients. Here's all you need to know about breast cancer detection and treatment in India
The most prevalent cancer in women, breast cancer, is also the most difficult to treat but it is also the most gratifying when it comes to recovery from or response to therapy. This top-notch treatment infrastructure is only available in major cities, though and in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and villages, where even basic services and technology like radiology equipment are difficult to locate, access must be made ubiquitous.
Apart from the lack of skilled professionals, the rural public is also uninformed about their alternatives, even if they have the money hence, some people choose to go to the closest metropolis for treatment but this raises the price because due to hospitalisation. India has more than 1.3 million new cases of cancer and more than 8.5 lakhs of deaths annually.
Cancer is not only a health concern, it is a complex issue that also involves social, economic, developmental and human rights. One of the simplest and most affordable treatments medical practitioners may undertake during patient care is cancer screening as cancers getting detected early have more likelihood of getting treated well.
Breast Cancer cases are increasing worldwide and it is the most diagnosed cancer and the primary cause of death in women where in India, there are almost >1.7 lakh new cases and >90 thousand deaths from this disease every year as per Globocan 2020. While the number of cases of breast cancer are increasing, newer innovations are emerging to help reduce disease burden and newer oral therapies are intended to enhance survival and quality of life of patients.
Detection of Breast Cancer in India
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr DC Doval, Chair-Medical Oncology and Chief of Breast and Thoracic Services at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute in Delhi, revealed, “Nearly all of Indian breast cancer patients identify their condition on their own, often when it has already caused secondary alterations such localised skin or chest wall abnormalities or distant metastases. Even after discovering an abnormality, such as a lump, a visit to the doctor is often delayed significantly for diagnosis and treatment since the early manifestations, such as lumps, etc, are not accompanied by pain or other unwelcome symptoms. Women are discouraged from obtaining expert counsel since the community health centres and peripheral hospitals near their homes lack appropriate diagnostic capabilities.”
Dr DC Doval said, “Earlier the patients were only treated with chemotherapy and radiation apart from surgery. Now there are many available options for treatment of breast cancer. Advances in breast cancer management helps the women to get timely treatment and improve their quality of life. New oral therapies have come like CDK4/6 Inhibitors are used to treat hormone positive Metastatic Breast Cancer. In India more than 60% patients are Hormone Receptor positive Breast Cancer. Indian companies like Cipla are introducing generic version of Palbociclib (a CDK4/6 Inhibitor) in India and bring cost down from ₹90,000 to less than ₹5000/ monthly, which will make the drug more accessible to large number of patients. This way, the introduction of more Indian generics will help impact a great number of patients.”
According to Dr DC Doval, the best way to manage a cancer is early diagnosis and treatment, under the supervision of oncologist. He advised, "Try and maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce your chance of getting cancer. The development of sophisticated genetic tests that can screen patients for breast cancer genes, the expanding use of a "personalised medicine" strategy (such as targeted therapy) and shorter courses of radiation therapy at higher doses for patients with early-stage breast cancer are just a few of the notable advancements in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment that have occurred in recent years."