‘New treatment is promising for cancer patients’

Namrata Devikar
Monday, 4 February 2019

“Chemotherapy is now miles away from the scary connotations it had. Newer drugs and newer methods of drug delivery are very safe, easily tolerable and more effective in cancer cure than it was ever in the past.” said Dr Bhatt.

PUNE: Here is good news for cancer patients and their families: Cancer experts from the city say that new treatment modalities for cancer which are affordable and have lesser side effects  are coming up. However, the primary reason for the growing incidence for cancer in India and globally is the changing lifestyle, increasing urbanisation, pollution, increasing presence of chemicals in the food chain and tobacco consumption. 

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Amit Bhatt, consultant oncologist at the Avinash Cancer Clinic said cancer medicine is witnessing a tsunami of discoveries in all treatment modalities.

“Chemotherapy is now miles away from the scary connotations it had. Newer drugs and newer methods of drug delivery are very safe, easily tolerable and more effective in cancer cure than it was ever in the past. These recent advances have brought under its umbrella the elderly patients who were deprived of cancer care,” said Dr Bhatt.

He added that nanotechnology molecules, biological molecules targeting specific cancer-causing abnormalities and the latest immunotherapy are the most advanced weapons in the medical oncologist’s arsenal now. 

“The best part is all of this is now available for our Indian patients too locally,” said Dr Bhatt.

Dr Vikas Kothavade, radiation oncologist at Jupiter Hospital, said the new treatment modalities focus on not harming healthy cells.

“Around 70 per cent cancer patients need radiation therapy. A lot of patients do not take radiation therapy due to misconceptions. The basic intention of using radiation is to minimise chances of having the cancer return. Radiation therapy focuses on reducing the cancer infected cells. But in this process it also affects good and healthy cells in turn generating side effects. New treatment modalities have come up that focus on not harming healthy cells,” said Dr Kothavade.  

He said one such treatment modality is Intensity Modulated Radio Therapy (IMRT). 

“It is a type of conformal radiotherapy that delivers different amounts of radiation to different parts of the treatment area. In case of mouth and throat cancer the side effects of radiation is less. There is less swelling, less trouble in swallowing and blackish skin is reduced,” Dr Kothavade added. 

He further added that in this therapy there are chances that cancer can revert as a few cells around the tumour can be left out.

“To address that, Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT) came up. IGRT is the use of imaging during radiation therapy to improve the precision and accuracy of treatment delivery,” said Dr Kothavade.

He said stereotactic radiotherapy and respiratory-gated radiotherapy are also being used for treatment of cancer.

“Stereotactic radiotherapy is a way of targeting radiotherapy very precisely at the tumour. Though machines for this process are available rarely, the side effects become very minimal in this process. In respiratory-gated radiotherapy,  a significant potential for improvement is seen in irradiation of tumour sites affected by respiratory motion such as lung, breast, and liver tumours,” said Dr Kothavade.

CANCER FACTS
- Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.
- Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries.
- Around one-third of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
- Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths.

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