Only 17% cancer patients get right treatment: Survey

A recent survey conducted by a global cancer care website has revealed that over 83 per cent of cancer patients in India are getting wrong treatment. According to recent statistics by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India is likely to have over 8,80,000 cancer-related deaths and over 1.73 million new cancer cases by 2020. The survey, thus, shows that a large number of lives are in danger due to wrong drugs and lack of complete tests required.

The survey, conducted on 365 patients, revealed that 15 per cent of the patients were getting completely wrong treatment, 27 per cent were not being given the right chemotherapy drugs, and 41 per cent did not undergo complete tests. This leaves only 17 per cent of patients are on the right treatment path as per the International scientific guidelines.

“Cancer is a complex disease and requires a multi-disciplinary and evidence-based approach. While this is followed in developed countries, in developing nations like India, patients do not get access to multi-disciplinary care. Taking the second opinion in the form of a multi-disciplinary review by a team of doctors from three specialities – surgical, medical and radiation oncology – can dramatically improve outcomes for cancer patients by preventing mistreatment. Today, less than 10 percent of cancer patients in India get the second opinion. Most do not have access to multi-disciplinary care,” said Dr Amit Jotwani, a senior oncologist.

While doctors at the National Cancer Institute, country’s largest Cancer Institute which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February this year, are on a mission to eradicate cancer from the country in the coming 15 years, and bringing cutting edge technology, including the ‘proton therapy’ and ‘robotic core clinical laboratory’ in a government facility, the survey numbers highlight the shocking facts.

“A multi-disciplinary panel is a novel concept among developing countries. For every patient, we form a team of cancer specialists – typically a medical oncologist, a surgical oncologist, and a radiation oncologist. This ensures that our patients receive a complete picture of their cancer, and take treatment decisions accordingly,” said Rashie Jain, co-founder of onco.com, the website that conducted the global survey.