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Evolution of breast cancer treatment in India

Even if the first line of medication is ineffective, patients now receive many lines of therapy to slow the spread of the disease.

Breast cancer, breast cancer awareness, breast cancer treatment, healthcare news,
With this, early diagnosis and right treatment becomes extremely imperative for better health outcomes of patients. (File)

By Dr Ankur Bahl

One of the most common cancer diagnosed worldwide among women is breast cancer with more than 1.7 lakh new cases and 90,000 plus mortalities in India, as per Globocan 2020. Cancer is also the leading cause of mortality among women globally.

With this, early diagnosis and right treatment becomes extremely imperative for better health outcomes of patients. Advanced diagnostic techniques and treatment options have greatly improved the prognosis for cancer, but they are still beyond reach for a major percentage of the Indian population, primarily due to their exorbitant costs of treatment. Newer treatment options have drastically transformed the way cancer was perceived – from a terminal sickness to a chronically debilitating condition, thanks to the significant improvement in survival rates. Even if the first line of medication is ineffective, patients now receive many lines of therapy to slow the spread of the disease.

The Journey:

The treatment for breast cancer in India has rapidly evolved over these years, thus making way for newer and advanced options that help in treatment and management of the disease. Earlier, breast cancer was treated targeting local area, primarily through surgery. However, only surgery had few challenges – since cancer is not about removing tumour but treating the whole body. Over the years, conservation of the breasts, post cancer treatment gained importance and hence radiation therapy and chemotherapy were introduced.

Current treatment options:

While the incidence of breast cancer is rising in India, technological advancements are enabling the patients to help lessen the burden of the disease. Today, medical professionals can evaluate the course of treatment depending on the stage of cancer and the overall immunity of the patient. Today, apart from surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, there have been further advancements in treatment of breast cancer. New oral therapies have been introduced like CDK4/6 Inhibitors, that are
used to treat Hormone positive Metastatic Breast Cancer. In India, more than 60% breast cancer patients are Hormone Receptor positive Breast Cancer.

The oral therapies have transformed the way of breast cancer treatment by stopping the growth of the cancer cells. The treatment is aimed at improving patients’ chances of survival, quality of life and better management of the disease.

What next in breast cancer treatment?

In the coming years, newer features in Palbociclib and introduction of gene therapy will enable the patients and clinical practitioners in better diagnosis, management of breast cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer. While the cancer treatment is advancing, improving primary prevention through efficient screening and early diagnosis of breast cancer is a collaborative strategy for India. In order to close the gap between expensive, high-quality treatment and affordable care, patient-centered approaches that concentrate on providing healthcare to underprivileged individuals are needed while keeping in mind the unresolved cancer epidemic.

(The author is a Senior Director – Medical Oncology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)

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First published on: 29-01-2023 at 13:24 IST