Chemotherapy, a necessary yet debilitating treatment procedure comes with a series of side effects – from hair loss to stomach disorders to severe muscle or joint pain. However, new age disease prognostic tests can now help a large number of patients avoid unnecessary over-treatment, prolonging their lives and improving quality of life.
Aarvi (name changed), a 47 year old woman was devastated on being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer last year. Having witnessed her aunt going through chemotherapyand its dreadful side-effects a few years back, Aarvianticipated the worst. However,after undergoing prognostic tests to assess disease relapse risk, she was surprisedto hear that her treatment regimen would not include chemotherapy. A year on, the womanis on course to beat the disease and is happy to have avoided unnecessary aggressivetreatment.
“Till a few years back, all breast cancer patients had to be treated uniformly and administered chemotherapy. However, new age prognostic tests such asCanAssist Breast along with hormone receptor tests now allow Oncologists to identify patientswith a low risk of disease relapse who can be successfully treated without administeringchemotherapy drugs. This results in much less treatment related side effects, betteroutcomes, improved quality of life and also cost savings. In fact, many of patients can avoid chemotherapy if all undergo the tests in early stages of the disease,”said Dr Sachin Marda, Consultant Oncologist & Robotic Surgeon (Cancer Specialist), Yashoda Hospital.
Oncologists say making prognostic tests available to a larger number of patients can significantly improve disease outcomes apart from improving quality of lives of patients.
“Breast cancer treatment modalities have significantly advanced in recent years and we have evolved towards a more customised approach to treatment varying from patient to patient. Avoiding chemotherapy and aggressive treatment not only improves quality of life but also saves cost of treatment. These prognostic assessments must be made available to a larger number of patients through government subsidies and incentives to Indian companies conducting these tests. All the more important is the need to increase early stage diagnosis of disease because late stage patients cannot benefit from this technology. Unfortunately, a majority of breast cancer patients in India are currently diagnosed in late stages,” said DrMarda
Most top international Oncology bodies including ESMO, NCCN and ASCO today recommend the use of prognostic tests to guide use of chemotherapy in early stage breast cancer patients. Prognostic tests such as CanAssist Breast are increasingly being used in India to customize treatment procedures and reduce difficult side effects of treatment.
Chemotherapy drugs help kill the fast growing cancer cells in the body. However, these drugs also negatively affect the healthy body cells resulting in a slew of side effects including weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, hair loss, diarrhoea and nausea. Low-risk patients have the opportunity to avoid this based on very small chances of the cancer returning. Indigenously developed CanAssist Breast is one such prognostic test that gives low or high risk stratification with a high degree of accuracy. Breast cancer incidence has risensignificantly in Telangana in recent years.Experts say changing lifestyles, consumption of unhealthy food, lack of physical activity, delayed age of childbirth as well as reduced breastfeeding years are factors that contribute to increased risk of breast cancer among women.