Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and its incidence has increased in recent years with lifestyle changes being an important factor. In India, the burden of cancer is rising as well, and newer technologies are being developed to improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of cancer patients.
Some of the cutting-edge technologies that have helped change the cancer scenario in India:
Precision medicine uses genomic information to personalize treatment for cancer patients. It enables doctors to select the most effective treatment for a patient based on the genetic profile of their tumour. This approach has increased the accuracy of diagnosis and the effectiveness of treatment.
It is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses a robot to perform complex procedures. It is used in cancer surgery to remove tumours with greater precision, minimizing the risk of damage to surrounding tissue. The Da Vinci surgical system is widely used in India for performing cancer-specialised surgeries.
Image-guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
IGRT is a form of radiation therapy that uses imaging techniques to precisely locate and treat cancerous tissue. This allows for a higher dose of radiation to be delivered to the tumour while minimising exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
Proton therapy is another type of radiation therapy that uses high-energy proton beams to destroy cancerous cells. This technology is particularly useful in treating tumours located in sensitive areas of the body, such as the brain, eyes and spinal cord, where traditional radiation therapy can cause severe side effects. It also has value in childhood cancers by preventing long terms side effects.
Liquid biopsy is a non-invasive diagnostic test that analyses a patient’s blood or other bodily fluids for cancer cells or markers. It is useful for detecting cancer at an early stage, monitoring disease progression and guiding treatment decisions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is being used in cancer care to improve diagnosis, treatment planning and prognosis. For example, AI algorithms can analyse medical images to identify cancerous tissue or predict the response to different treatments.
Radiomics focuses on AI-powered healthcare and helps in the extraction of mineable data from medical imaging and has been applied within oncology to improve diagnosis, prognostication, and clinical decision support, with the goal of delivering precision medicine.
It is a treatment strategy that combines therapeutics with diagnostics and helps in targeted drug delivery. Its uses include prostate cancer, neuroendocrine cancers etc.
These cutting-edge technologies have brought a new era of hope for cancer patients in India. They have improved the accuracy of diagnosis, increased the effectiveness of treatment and reduced the side effects of therapy. However, the availability and accessibility of these technologies are still limited in many parts of the country, and there is a need to prioritise investment in cancer care to ensure that all patients have access to these advances.
(The author is the Senior Director of Medical – Oncology and Hemato-Oncology at Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore)
📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!