Cancer decisions and cancer treatment in India.
The Indian cancer treatment scenario is often different than western countries like America. Here are four steps towards a better cancer treatment plan for Indian patients.
1. Decide your treatment plan
Decide how much treatment you want to undergo as a cancer patient. For example, a 25 year old patient may opt for many rounds of chemotherapy but a 92 year patient may not want any chemotherapy. Remember, it’s always up to the patient. If you don’t want difficult treatments like chemo, there may be other options including targeted and immunotherapy. Ask your doctor. Use google to see the survival rates for your cancer type and stage, which can help decide your next move. Also, it may be useful to know what sample type(s) are available for testing.
2. Cancer treatment decisions and cost in India
In India many patients pay out of pocket as they are without health insurance. Prepare a treatment plan based on your finances. For example, newer treatments such as immunotherapy may be easier to undergo than chemotherapy, but chemotherapy is usually available at only a fraction of the cost. Remember, taking the correct testing, may significantly reduce your cost of treatment as you can avoid treatment options which wont help. Medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy for Indian households so plan carefully.
3. Select the right hospital and doctor
Generally, the more experience a doctor has with your particular cancer type, the better outcome may be. For a hospital you want the latest available equipment, especially for surgical cases. For a doctor you want to decide carefully based on your treatment cycle between a medical oncologist, surgical oncologist, or radiation oncologist. For example, once you surgery is done it may be beneficial to switch from a surgical oncologist to a medical oncologist. In India, given a high burden of popular doctors, it may help to seek opinions from the topmost experts but get treated with a doctor who has more time available for you.
4. Follow the guidelines and get the right tests done
Cancer treatment guidelines help decide the course of treatment especially at the initial stages of treatment. In India, cancer care often has a wide-variation of sticking closely or disregarding the guidelines. For most cases, especially for the initial treatment phases, its advantageous to stick closely to guidelines for a more proven standard-of-care. Additionally, finding out the right tests for you, can save you from unhelpful treatments and set your treatment on the right course, while saving you major expenses. Immunotherapy is usually very costly in India and a few tests like PositiveSelect Immunotherapy can determine your likelihood to respond at a fraction of the cost. A breast cancer patient may opt for a BRCA test before taking PARP inhibitors.