Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases of today’s times and is the second leading cause of death after communicable diseases in countries like India. Due to this high disease burden, cancer treatment in India is now improving but still has miles to go to be able to treat all patients suffering from this disease.
Cancer is a condition that is characterised by abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and spread to other healthy tissues. It usually begins due to a change in the genes of one or more cells and prompts them to multiply and form a solid mass of cells called a tumour.
Cancer can begin anywhere in the body and this is called as primary cancer. Many a time, these primary cancerous cells break-off and travel through other parts of the body by entering the blood or lymphatic systems and cause cancer there. This type of cancer is called as secondary cancer.
It is often difficult for people to know if they are suffering from the big ‘C’. Though all cancers have different symptoms based on their location in the body, there are some signs and symptoms that are relatively easy to spot such as:
- Unusual changes in the body
- A lump or growth
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Blood in urine or stool
- Changes in a mole or appearance of a new mole
- Persistent cough
- Unexplained pain or ache, etc.
Though cancer occurs due to a change in the genes of cells, there are some factors that trigger it. Common cancer triggering factors include – smoking, obesity, exposure to UV rays, unhealthy lifestyle and diet, drinking alcohol, infections like HPV and HIV, pollution, hormonal imbalances. Educating people about these trigger factors by creating awareness about the disease is the only towards best cancer treatment in India.
This is possible through cancer prevention and cancer screening. Screening tests for cancer are used to detect cancer in their early stages and people are required to get them done routinely based on their risk for a particular cancer type for example BRAC1 and BRAC2 Gene Testing for pancreatic cancer.
The number of cancer cases are on the rise across the world but are particularly high in India. The country has a high prevalence rate with total reaching 70 million cases by year 2021.
The most common cancers in Indian men are oral, lung and throat cancers mainly due to smoking and tobacco chewing habits; and the most common cancers in Indian women are breast, ovarian and cervical cancers.
Due to the rising number of cancer cases, Government of India has recognised 27 cancer centres under the National Cancer Control Programme (erstwhile). Under this programme and the NPCDCS, these cancer centres are can receive financial help and assistance up to INR 60 million to provide cancer treatment to patients.
Cancer Treatment in India : Treatment Options
Cancer Surgery in India
This is one of the main treatment options in cancer treatment and is particularly useful when the cancer is localised, self-contained and not spread, and when it is detected very early.
Chemotherapy in India
Just like surgery, chemotherapy is also extensively used in treating cancers of different types. In this treatment, anti-cancer drugs are used that work by killing cancer cells. Since they work throughout the body, it is a type of systemic treatment and is useful to treat a wide range of cancers.
Radiation Therapy in India
Radiotherapy uses high energy radiations, mainly x-rays to kill the DNA of the cancer cells, and stop them from growing. Most cancer patients undergo radiotherapy atleast once in their treatment cycle, and many a time in combination with other treatments.
In this type of treatment, medicines are used to block or lower the amount of certain hormones that cause the tumour to grow. This therapy is commonly used to treat breast cancer treatment in India and prostate cancer treatment in India.
Bone Marrow Transplant in India
Stem and Bone marrow transplants are the treatment of choice in some cancer types like leukaemia, lymphomas and myelomas. This treatment is usually performed along with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Targeted Therapy in India
This method uses drugs that can identify cancerous cells from non-cancerous healthy ones and kill only the cancerous ones. This way, the patient’s healthy cells continue to live.
Immunotherapy in India
Immunotherapy is the treatment of choice for some types of cancer and is still at the clinical trial stage for others. It basically helps our immune system differentiate between the cancer and non-cancer cells and trains it to attack only the cancer cells.
Proton Beam Therapy in India :
Proton Beam Therapy in India is an advanced technique that uses external beam radiation therapy, but instead of X-rays, it uses high-energy proton beams to treat cancers. This therapy is highly focussed to kill the targeted cancer cells. Also, while radiation therapy comes with unwanted exit radiation that harms healthy tissues around the cancerous cells, proton beam therapy delivers the radiation only to the target cells, making it a very precise and effective treatment.
India has now established itself as the treatment hub of cancers in the world with the best oncologists, good quality of care, options for cancer second opinion and excellent diagnostic facilities. Cancer treatment in India is also more affordable than most other countries, making it more suitable for cancer patients from across the world.