Like any recently married in her early thirties, Alpana was looking to start a family. The world came crashing down on her and her family when she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Regular course of treatment would have taken 1 year of chemotherapy along with 5 years of hormonal therapy. During this period, Alpana would not have been able to conceive.
As a ray of hope, her treating Doctor informed her that the tumour was small which meant that she could manage it along with her pregnancy. The doctor also explained to her the option of fertility preservation if chemotherapy or hormone therapy are to be given to her as part of regular treatment. However, that would mean that she had to wait for another 5-6 years to conceive. Considering that she was already in her 30s, it was a difficult decision for Alpana. This is when her doctor suggested doing prognostication of the disease to plan the next course of treatment.
CanAssist Breast test was performed on Alpana’s tumor sample and the tumor was classified as ‘low-risk’ for cancer recurrence. What did this mean to Alpana? It meant that she could skip chemotherapy and take a year to conceive and deliver a baby, after which hormone therapy can be started for 5 years. Alpana did exactly that and delivered a healthy baby. It’s been 5 years since diagnosis, she enjoys being a doting mother to her child. She is currently doing well and has shown promising progress on hormonal therapy. CanAssist Breast was a life changing decision for Alpana and her family. We at OncoStem are exceedingly happy that we could help Alpana and family in our small way!
I Had Cancer, But Cancer NEVER had ME
I am Amoga. I still remember it was 2016 when I the lump was identified as cancerous growth, without any further delay I consulted the doctor. I underwent the screening & the report came as the CANCER. Yes, it was hard to digest but time was of essence.
Blurry Dreams & a Tint of Hope
A lot of thoughts clogged my mind regarding the dreaded chemotherapy. What is Chemotherapy??? Is it a really painful ??? Do I lose my hair??? In my early 40’s will I be able to take Chemotherapy??
With all these thoughts I consulted my doctor and the best thing was he suggested us to go for “CanAssist Breast” (CAB) test before opting for chemotherapy. That’s when a tint of hope entered my mind. Our doctor explained in detail about the CAB test & the risk factors. Without thinking further, we sent our FFPE blocks and reports to Bangalore Lab. We received the CAB report within 10 working days and consulted the doctor again with the CAB test report.
Leading a New Life – The wish for healing has always been half of health
CAB report mentioned that my cancer was not very aggressive and I may not benefit from taking chemotherapy. Reading the report, my doctor suggested me not to go for Chemotherapy & recommended to start with Hormone Therapy. I was relaxed hearing this & opted for Hormone therapy with regular follow-ups.
I have come through this journey strongly thinking when the sun goes down, the stars come out. It’s been 5years now being cancer-free without Chemotherapy. I would highly recommend other breast cancer patients to discuss with their clinicians and go for the CAB test.
There is a CAN in CANCER. B’coz we can beat it.
If I look back 5 years journey as a cancer survivor in my 40s, I think I am very thankful that my clinician talked to me about prognostic tests like CanAssist Breast. I was able to fight cancer without chemotherapy, thanks to CanAssist Breast test gave me a HOPE & HOPE is to live with courage & Confidence, Not Fear.
Tons of sleep: Good for recovery
Each patient who has undergone treatment for any form of cancer should aim to acquire healthy sleep cycles. This allows the human body to rejuvenate, gain its energies, improve the human mood, control weight, re-develop memory, increase attention cycles, and so on. In line with this, each patient should stick to regular bedtimes at night and rule out any distractions. Therefore, all forms of digital devices should be excluded from the bedroom. Besides, a dark, cool bedroom assists in recovery; this should be a priority for patients recovering from cancer treatment regimens. Further, recovering patients should avoid the consumption of stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
Good, healthy diet is essential
A healthy diet is necessary to assist recovery in the phase of life that follows cancer treatment. Patients and their family members must try to include different types of green vegetables in the regular diet of a recovering patient. Foods high in fiber content such as beans, whole grains, nuts, lentils, seeds, etc. can boost dietary fiber and must be included. Also, patients must consume healthy portions of probiotic and prebiotic foods to rejuvenate the digestion canal. Medical professionals encourage the consumption of raw garlic, raw or cooked onions, artichokes, legumes, and beans during the recovery phase of a patient.
Regular exercise can speed up recovery
Regular exercise can help the human body recover faster from cancer treatment procedures. Therefore, a patient should consult healthcare professionals and other specialists to develop a fitness routine. Short, moderately intense bursts of physical exercise can pump the heart muscles, thereby improving blood circulation in the human body. In addition, walking and standing should be included in the fitness routine. A patient could network with other recovering patients to form a small community that exercises together regularly. Such a stance helps inculcate the team spirit and encourages each member to participate in physical exercise regimens. Further, recovering patients should avoid sitting still for a longer time.
Quit smoking, quit second-hand smoke
Cancer survivors should make a conscious and ongoing effort to quit smoking and chewing tobacco. Healthcare specialists urge survivors to join an anti-smoking campaign as part of efforts to improve physical and mental health following medical treatment. They should also undertake efforts to avoid smoke-laden bars and restaurants in a bid to avoid second-hand smoke. Further, a non-smoking workplace should ideally help in the recovery process, therefore enabling patients to gain complete recovery from any form of cancer.
Stay connected with friends and family
Social support remains an important element that speeds up recovery in patients that have undergone treatment for cancer. In line with this, survivors should make an effort to communicate with friends and other members of the cancer survivor community. Telephone calls, video calls, social media networks may also assist in such recovery. Such actions enable cancer survivors to regain their mental and psychological strength.
Lower stress – best for recovery
Taking regular walks, listening to music, watching a movie, going out for meals with friends, using various relaxation techniques, etc. can help control the incidence of stress in the minds of recovering patients. Such activities regulate the release of stress hormones and pave the way for a patient to achieve a normal lifestyle. The avoidance of stressful situations also acts as a tonic for the health of a survivor. These acts also boost self-esteem and allow recovering patients to gain sound mental and physical health.
These suggestions can help cancer survivors regain a normal lifestyle and prevent a relapse of health complications. Members of the society and immediate family should support and encourage cancer survivors to gain a healthy lifestyle at the earliest.
With the rising number of breast cancer cases in rural and urban India, there is an increased discussion and awareness about the disease. However, discussions about treatments are just one side of early-stage breast cancer. Psycho-social distress, work-illness management, gathering knowledge, family support, and other such
personal factors need attention, too. Those with early-stage breast cancer should know a few basic things before they begin their breast cancer treatment.
Here are 5 things every early-stage breast cancer patient should know:
1. Breast cancer brings with it the need for psycho-social care
The news of breast cancer diagnosis brings emotions and distress in the lives of the patients and their family members. Fear, anxiety, panic, and stress are among the common types of psychological effects that come with breast cancer. It includes cognitive, social, and functional problems. The levels of distress vary from patient to patient and family-to-family based on the disease and the treatment. As early-stage breast cancers are highly likely to be cured with ease, patients and family members should know that their distress would reduce gradually.
They may need the following care and help :
• Help in coping with depression, fear, and anxiety about the recurrence or progression.
• Help and support from family members, spouses, and relatives to understand them better.
2. Know your breast cancer – weigh the treatment options
All breast cancers are not the same, even at the early-stage. Stages 1 and 2 are categorized as early-stage. At this stage, the tumor is small, which means that it hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. Depending on the breast cancer type and the tumor grade, the oncologists will decide the treatment.
Years of scientific advances, technology, machine learning, therapeutics, and studies focused on cancer have come together to make personalized treatments for breast cancer possible. Oncologists are now studying the biology of patients’ tumor to decide the ideal cure. Patients with early-stage breast cancer need to know that the possibilities of personalized treatments to cure their cancer are positive.
Knowing your breast cancer in detail is essential because it can help you play an active part in deciding your treatment.
3. Managing professional life
The news about breast cancer can have adverse effects on a person’s professional life. Apart from managing and planning treatment, a woman has to decide whether to continue or quit working during her treatment. A decision to not work might leave the patient stressed about the expenses related to her treatment and the fear of losing the job if the employer is not supportive.
A woman with early-stage breast cancer has several factors to deal when it comes to work. Some patients might experience biases. Employers might not assign important jobs or projects to patients due to uncertainty or lack of confidence in the patient’s ability. Co-workers might start treating patients differently- with more care and support or the opposite. Patients have to deal with these changes at the workplace with a lot of care and maturity.
4. Early-stage breast cancer patients have high survival chances
In India, breast cancer cases have doubled over the past 25 years. Breast cancer accounts for around 8.2% of all cancers and the survival rate is still low at 66%, compared to 40% in the West. One of every two breast cancer patients in India doesn’t survive the disease. The reason: late detection.
As the stages advance, meaning an increase in the size of the tumor, its potential to spread in other parts of the body also increases. This affects patients’ chances of treatment and survival. If breast cancer involves the lymph nodes and/or if the tumor is larger, the chances of survival are lesser. If breast cancer is detected at an
early-stage, the chances of effective treatment are higher.
5. Support from family, friends, and gathering of information
It is important that families, friends, and spouses support breast cancer patients throughout their cancer journey. Physical, emotional, and mental support must be extended to the patient. The support of the family and the comfort of the patient are most important to deal with the situation in the best possible way. Every family and household will deal with it in a different way depending on the members and their needs. Here are some ways and things to do:
• Be patient
• Be open and have wholehearted conversations
• Read a lot about the patient’s condition to get a better understanding
• Research and explore all the possible treatments
• Let the patient know that you’re always there when needed
• Talk about financial help and how you will manage the expenses
• Help the patients deal with health insurance policies
• Be physically present when the patient needs help and support
• Talk about emotions and emotional needs of the patients
Knowing and understanding some of these basic and simple things about your breast cancer condition can help you to plan your treatment wisely.
Remember, early-stage breast cancer patients have a higher chance of eliminating the disease and living carefree.
What comes to your mind when you think about breast cancer? It would most probably be ‘chemotherapy,’ ‘fear of a long process of treatment,’ ‘high costs,’ the fear of cancer coming back, and so on. These thoughts can be controlled with the right knowledge and right breast cancer treatments.
Researchers and oncologists have made new and promising forms of treatment for breast cancer. It’s time to personalize your treatment!
Our test classiﬁes patients as ‘low-risk’ or ‘high-risk’ based on the patient’s breast cancer recurrence risks over five years. The clear-cut test result provides doctors with additional information that can be used for treatment planning.
Plan the ideal treatment
CanAssist Breast is a test that helps to plan the ideal treatment by predicting the breast cancer recurrence risk within five years of surgery. The risk of recurrence is lesser in early-stage breast cancer (Stage 1 and Stage 2), and hence, it is important for doctors and the patients to plan out a suitable course of treatment based on the breast cancer recurrence risk score.
Until a few years back, oncologists and clinicians were deciding cancer treatments based on age, tumor size, node status, grade, ER, PR and HER2 status. OncoStem realized there was a gap in the decision-making paradigm and understanding the tumor biology to comprehend the cancer progression and its aggressiveness would significantly change treatments depending on an individual’s tumor biology.
Tests similar to CanAssist Breast have been based on genomic analysis, whereas CanAssist Breast involves proteomics analysis. The genomics method considers genes of interest in the genome of a cell, whereas CanAssist Breast’s proteomics technique studies the proteins of interest produced by the cell. A 5-year study by OncoStem Diagnostics, recently published online, explains the detailed analysis and results that lead to the test, CanAssist Breast.
Your tumor is different, just like you are, as an individual.
Doctors and oncologists have to know as much possible about your tumor for optimal and ideal treatment.
A way forward – scientific, machine-learning precision
Artificial intelligence and machine learning is an emerging approach in the healthcare sector including the treatment of breast cancer. CanAssist Breast is the first such test developed in India, specifically for Indian patients. It determines the tumor’s biochemical fingerprint and assesses its aggressiveness. Assessing the tumor biology in detail, the test considers five key biomarkers that are involved in recurrence-related pathways in the cell. Based on this combined analysis performed by proteomics-based technology, the information is then assessed by a statistical algorithm that provides a score between 0 and 100 – whether the patient is at low-risk or high-risk for cancer recurrence. A ‘CAB risk score’ less than 15.5 indicates a low-risk. Depending on each patient’s unique CAB risk score, the doctors can thus plan an ideal treatment tailored to an individual’s patient.
A decision that doctors and patients must make:
‘Fear’ is the most shared and challenging emotion that cancer brings with it. However, fearful a patient might be; it is essential for the patients to know and consider that their treatment can be different from that of the other patients.
Knowing who is eligible for the CanAssist-Breast test can help both patients and doctors.
The patients must meet the below criteria to take CanAssist Breast:
- Patients with early-stage, invasive breast cancer
- Patients with hormone receptor-positive (“ER+ and/or PR+”) and HER2- negative disease
- Lymph node-negative or up to 3 lymph node-positive
- Patients should not have gone through neo-adjuvant chemotherapy
In India alone, 150,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Of these, around 50 percent fall in the early-stage breast cancer category and a majority of them are eligible for this test.
Take your decision together
If you or someone among your friends or family are going through breast cancer (early-stage), you must consider taking CanAssist Breast before starting the treatment. If you are an oncologist or a doctor, maybe your patients could avoid the unnecessary treatments and the side effects most usually associated with chemotherapy.
Doctors must suggest the test to their eligible patients and patients must ask their doctors about the test score and personalize their treatment accordingly.
Want to know more about CanAssist Breast? Get in touch with us.