Breast Cancer: End of Pain

Our medical research institutes and health ministry pundits need to do some urgent jugaad in the matter! 
Hardnews Bureau 

October 2010 was Breast Cancer Awareness Month in New Delhi. One in 22 people in India, one in eight in the UK and one in seven in USA are likely to suffer from breast cancer. If detected in time, breast cancer is the most curable manifestation of cancer. The statistics are boggling. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment commences with surgery and is followed by adjuvant therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. Protocols for chemotherapy and radiation come to us from Europe and America in the form of an aggressive attack on the cancer cell. Radiation is localised warfare and modern technology minimises radiation fallout. Chemotherapy involves a blitzkrieg of all the living cells in the entire body and piles up huge collateral damage while eliminating cancerous cells.

Cancer of the breast could be due to single tumour carcinoma in situ, multifocal tumour, or full blown carcinoma in a state of infiltration, for instance. A range of tests on the retrieved tumour decides the type of chemotherapy to be administered post breast surgery. Cancer treatment is expensive and tests such as the IHC and the more complex Her-2 are available in India. The ONCO-DX test analyses tumours at the molecular level and is the gold standard determining whether a patient needs chemotherapy or not. Prohibitive in terms of costs, the ONCO-DX's rescue of cancer patients from the traumatic side-effects of chemotherapy cannot be quantified in money terms. It is possible to have a large tumour which is minimally aggressive or a multifocal cancer with a low score. This can only be confirmed by an ONCO-DX test. Unfortunately, this facility is not available to the majority of breast cancer patients who haplessly undergo aggressive chemotherapy treatments in India 

The test itself has only been around in USA in the last few years, but had we been working with Indian demographics, the number of people who might have benefited from this test could have been enormous. Given the fact that breast cancer is one of the more prevalent forms of cancer in our country today, we need to address ONCO-DX's non-availability with far more seriousness. Possibly, had this technology been part of regular diagnosis options in India, we could have a different set of readings and perhaps a new protocol for treatment based on a different data bank and a different set of statistics. 

For something like this to happen, or to even move from being a mere idea, we need this technology here and now. We need it to be available, affordable and accessible! Our medical research institutes and health ministry pundits need to do some urgent jugaad in the matter! 

Meanwhile, our allopaths continue to view alternative medicinal practice not originating from the West with scepticism. Surely, the need of the hour is to upgrade and integrate all available systems of health care and make holistic treatment for the patients our first priority.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: DECEMBER 2010

#Tags: