‘70 pc of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage’

Namrata Devikar
Saturday, 19 January 2019

Dr Snita Sinukumar, the first woman cancer surgeon in Pune, talks to NAMRATA DEVIKAR in an exclusive interview about the rising incidence of ovarian cancer in the city.

- What is the incidence of ovarian cancer in India?
Ovarian cancer is slowly emerging as one the most common cancers among Indian women. During the period 2001 to 2006, the Age-Standardised incidence Rates (ASR) for ovarian cancer varied from 0.9 to 8.4 per 100,000 person years amongst various cancer registries. The highest incidence was noted in Pune and Delhi registries. The Age Specific Incidence Rate (ASIR) for ovarian cancer revealed that the disease increases from 35 years of age and reaches a peak between the ages 55 years to 64 years. The trend analysis by period showed an increasing trend in the incidence rate of ovarian cancer in most of the registries. 

- Why is ovarian cancer called ‘A Silent Cancer’?
Ovarian cancer does not present any specific signs and symptoms. Most symptoms mimick common complaints like indigestion, bloating, urinary tract symptoms, thus leading to delay in diagnosis. 70 per cent ovarian cancers are diagnosed at a third or fourth stage, making treatment challenging for patients and physicians alike. Hence it is aptly called ‘The Silent Cancer’. 

- What is the common treatment for ovarian cancer?
Treatment entails a combination of surgery and intravenous chemotherapy. However most times this is not enough and the cancer comes back early and the cancer usually comes back within the abdomen itself. So in order to decrease the chances of cancer coming back early, recently a new treatment modality has emerged called Hypethermic Intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). 

- Can you elaborate about Hypethermic Intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).
Briefly, this treatment involves heating the chemotherapy and instilling directly into the peritoneal cavity at the time of surgery and the advantage of this is that the chemotherapy comes in direct contact with the cancer cells and is a one time application. However it can only be administered after a good optimal surgical removal of all disease from the abdomen. This procedure is a highly specialised procedure called cytoreductive surgery and HIPEC and requires special training by surgeons.

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