What will happen to her body when she is undergoing chemotherapy? What kind of pain will she have to go through? Is she mentally prepared for chemotherapy? Will chemotherapy affect her emotionally? The mind is occupied with ample thoughts and emotions when loved ones undergo chemotherapy, and, fear is the most distressing one.
1. Fear of losing hair:
Loss of hair is among the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy affects all the cells in the body including the healthy ones, especially the ones that grow rapidly. Here are a few more things you must know about hair loss and chemotherapy:
• Not everyone faces an equal amount of hair loss.
• The amount of hair loss, thinning, or falling of hair depends on the chemotherapy dosage and medication.
• Hair loss due to chemotherapy can be sudden or can be a slow process.
• Patients may either lose all the hair or just a part of it.
• It is possible to lose hair from all parts of the body; not just on the head.
2. Fear of chronic side effects:
A lot of people fear that chemotherapy leaves patients with chronic side effects, which might stay with them forever. This is not true for all patients and all kinds of cancers. Different patients experience varying lengths of side effects – some for weeks and months and some for years. The patient’s cancer care specialist might be able to share information about the long-term and short-term side effects and the tenure of side effects. Some side effects can also be treated with medication or therapy.
3. Fear of chemotherapy being physically painful:
Agreed, chemotherapy is painful. However, patients should know that certain pains caused by chemotherapy could be treated by the medication or by alternative therapies. As per cancer care experts, patients should remember that most often the anxiety of what is going to happen can psychologically heighten the perception of pain. The physical pain caused by chemotherapy doesn’t necessarily have to be as painful as considered to be.
4. Side effects of chemotherapy:
Some of the common side effects of chemotherapy are nausea, hair loss, constipation, anemia, weight loss, fertility problems, kidney problems, and so on. Having said this, patients need to know that:
• Every patient has different levels of side effects. Some patients might experience higher side effects than other patients.
• Certain side effects can be prevented with the help of extra care and medication.
• Some side effects have long term impact whereas some lasts for a shorter tenure.
Medical research and innovation have made it possible for some women to avoid chemotherapy. In India, 95% of cancer patients choose to undergo chemotherapy, whereas a large percentage of them can avoid it. Studies show that chemotherapy can be avoided in 70% early stage HER2 positive breast cancer patients.
Prognostic tests like CanAssist Breast helps the patients to know their breast cancer recurrence risk score and possibly avoid chemotherapy. It makes personalized treatment possible while keeping the costs down in low-risk cases.
Chemotherapy is a tough fight, but constantly telling yourself that you CAN make through it, is the best way to deal with the fear of chemotherapy. Remember, “This Too Shall Pass”!
Cancer specialists often face families and friends who are always worried about their loved ones suffering from cancer. Most of the worries revolve around finalizing the best hospital, opting right treatment, the duration of the treatment, and the cost involved to treat the disease. Though new medications and tests have gained impetus in the medical industry, patients and families are skeptic about the new treatments.
Cancer specialists who recommended breast cancer recurrence test such as CanAssist Breast to patients have faced several such inhibitions from them. Here are a few more challenges that cancer specialists face while educating the patients about
breast cancer recurrence tests:
Most of the cancer recurrence tests are expensive and comes as a huge burden to the patients. It adds to the existing diagnosis, medication, surgery, and other treatment-related bills.
However, patients should look at it as an expense that could save them from heavier medical expenses, especially from chemotherapy and radiation. Patients whose breast cancer recurrence score is low can skip chemotherapy, thereby can save lakhs of rupees. Also, the cancer care specialists will have better knowledge about the tumor and can accordingly personalize the treatment, thereby; avoiding overtreatment and undertreatment.
Trust-worthiness of machine-based tests :
In India, companies are using AI and machine learning-based tests for better cancer diagnosis and treatment by making it accurate, accessible, and affordable. Among the most significant advantages of using AI and machine learning is that these technologies can read a large amount of data with accuracy and within less time.
CanAssist Breast digitizes historical medical records of patients, feeds into an AI-algorithm which then analyzes the reports to create actionable insights for doctors. The test reads and analyzes tissue abnormality and identifies tumors that can develop into cancer – a benefit of technology that human expertise cannot possibly match.
Future predictability :
Some breast cancers are driven by natural hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Clinicians refer to these cancers as hormone receptor-positive if they are estrogen receptor-positive (ER positive) and/or progesterone receptor-positive (PR positive). Hormone therapy for breast cancer is only used to treat cancers that are ER or PR positive.
Despite conventional hormone therapy, approximately 20–30% of patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer will suffer recurrences and the development of metastatic disease.
Considerable progress has been made in this area, and newer therapeutic targets have been developed against several hormonal resistance mechanisms. Experts at OncoStem perform the test by analyzing the expression of five protein biomarkers using OncoStem’s proprietary machine-learning algorithm. The test reprt is dispatched within ten business days. The doctor and patient can further discuss the test reports and personalize the treatment.
Want to know more about our breast cancer recurrence test? Get in touch with us!
I am Meenakshi. I live in the buzzing city of Pune (India). I am 39 years right now and completely healthy. Let me take you back in time, the year 2016; My 36th birthday celebration was still on, both at home and hospital. I work as a part-time therapist in a non-profit hospital. All my patients gathered to celebrate my birthday, and this really touched me. At home, my husband and my 3-year-old boy had baked a not-so-good-looking, but love-filled cake. I was thrilled, and it was the best way I could turn 36.
The next morning, while in the shower, I felt a lump in my breast. I assumed I was imagining it and was worrying for no reason. I ignored it for a few days and continued with my daily commitments.
After a long day at work, I was getting ready to go to bed when I felt the lump again. Now, it was almost a week, and I could feel the lump every day. I decided to ask Dr. Sushma, the GP in the OPD at my hospital. Dr. Sushma hesitated a bit after checking me. This got me extremely anxious and worried. She said, “I am not too sure, I think you should get a scan done’’, I looked at her with a curious eye and asked, “You mean, it might be cancer?” She quickly gathered herself and shrugged, “I am not sure, I think it’s better to get a test done before concluding anything.”
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. And, the only thing my oncologist told me, “Don’t be worried. You should be happy you got it checked so early. Early detection is really a plus. The cancer is at a stage when it can be treated, and you can be back to your regular normal life.”
I think this is what stuck to me the most. It’s a normal ailment that can be cured and I am going to work towards making that happen. This attitude of mine along with family support made me strong and we were ready to overcome everything that came our way.
A few weeks later, came the turning point of my life. The tumor was surgically removed. Dr. Priya, my oncologist suggested to take up CanAssist Breast test to find out the breast cancer recurrence risk before going ahead with the treatment.
CanAssist Breast provided additional information about my tumor. The test results helped us to identify the likelihood of cancer returning to a distant site after surgery. Luckily, I was under the low-risk recurrence zone and I was spared from chemotherapy and its side-effects. This timely action of mine not only saved the cost of treatment but also helped me in leading a quality life.
Today, being a breast cancer survivor, I thank OncoStem and Dr. Manjiri for helping me take the most important and timely decision of my life. The decision to take CanAssistBreast test helped me in personalizing my treatment and leading a normal life.
1. Precision treatments for breast cancer
Precision medicine or personalized therapies for breast cancer are those that are tailored to a specific patient to give the most effective treatment. It considers the genetic makeup or other markers in the cancer cells, blood, and tumor tissues and non-genetic factors such as lifestyle. From diagnosis, treatment to prevention and care, this approach includes the collection and analysis of blood or tumor tissue.
The advantages of precision medicine:
- Avoid unnecessary treatment
- The treatments involved in cancer such as radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and surgery could have side effects. With precision medicine, these side effects can be avoided.
- It makes it easier to identify and involve specific medical experts depending on the need of the patient as opposed to a general medical expert or oncologist.
Precision treatments are also based on the groups that different patients belong to, such as HER2-positive, lymph node-positive, post or pre-menopausal, and other such groups.
2. AI and data analytics for breast cancer treatment
To tackle the numerous problems related to breast cancer such as late diagnosis, over-treatment, unaffordable treatments, and inaccessibility of treatment options, multiple companies have been researching and developing different solutions. Employing different technologies ranging from artificial intelligence and machine learning, the development of tech-based innovation for breast cancer has rapidly advanced in recent years.
For example, mammography is no longer the screening test that works for all. Tests such as digital breast tomosynthesis, whole-breast ultrasound, and AI-powered are more accessible, personalized, and affordable screening methods. Highly capable 3D mammography machines are simplifying early detection and breast cancer recurrence prediction tests and are helping patients to bypass chemotherapy altogether.
3. Tests that predict breast cancer recurrence
Breast cancer isn’t the same for each patient. There are different kinds of breast cancers, and they respond differently to different treatments. For example, oncologists are now planning treatments for patients based on their specific breast cancer conditions. These treatment decisions are based on whether they are HER2-positive, lymph node-positive, post or pre-menopausal, and other such factors.
Precision treatments are also based on the groups that different patients belong to, such as HER2-positive, lymph node-positive, post or pre-menopausal, and other such groups. Today, all women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer do not need chemotherapy. A few years ago, almost 95% of patients would definitely undergo chemotherapy as a measure to keep cancer away post-surgery.
OncoStem’s CanAssist Breast is a prognostic test that classifies the patients as ‘low-risk’ or ‘high-risk’ based on the patient’s breast cancer recurrence risk over five years.
Here’s how the test works:
- Once the tumor is removed by surgery, it is essential to determine if the patient has cancer recurrence chances.
- Upon taking the CanAssist Breast test, the diagnosis is considered in deciding the treatment plan for the patient. If the patient is categorized as low-risk, she can avoid chemotherapy.
- Apart from the test results, the oncologists consider other factors such as age, history, lifestyle, tumor size, and grade to plan the treatment.
Experts have noted peculiar observations in breast cancer occurrences in India. There is an increased incidence in younger age groups in rural and urban areas. With the number of breast cancer occurrences consistently on the rise, awareness about breast cancer recurrence risk is a must.
Up until a few years back, a large number of women in the rural areas suffered due to non-diagnostics and lack of facilities for cancer diagnosis and care in these regions. However, owing to the fact that the AI and tech-based screenings and treatments do not involve complex logistics or the need of physical examination, the availability of tests and medicines is penetrating deeper in rural and underserved regions, too.
These are some novel and innovative approaches in tests and treatments over the last few years:
Telemedicine: An unmanned telemedicine clinic where patients come face-to-face with medical experts from across the country. The process is carried out online that allows doctors and patients to see each other virtually.
Data analytics in medicine: A number of tests only require a small sample tissue from the cancer tumor to read, study, and access the cancer condition of the patients. These samples can be easily and safely couriered from any part of the country in just a few days enabling patients from unserved regions to access medical help.
India has the lowest doctor-patient ratio in the world. In such a scenario, these machine-based tests are helping reach a larger number of patients.
5. More affordable tests and treatments
For years, people have associated the word ‘cancer’ with being an expensive disease. Even though characterized as ‘low-cost’ by global standards, it still remains unaffordable for the majority of the population.
With new, advanced, improved, and innovative breast cancer treatments, the problem is being tackled by several cancer treatment institutes and startups. With continued research and development, startups are striving to make the tests even cheaper and affordable for a large segment of the population.
The need for the hour is to spread awareness about these options among patients and their loved ones.
Stay informed and spread the word!