Who hasn’t heard of cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s triumph over cancer and the launch of his non-profit YouWeCan. He is not the only survivor; artists Lisa Ray, Sonali Bendre, Manisha Koirala, Sanjay Dutt, film director Anurag Basu, and plenty of others from all walks of life continue to weave stories of hope.
Gone are the days when Cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. Early detection, personalized treatments, and AI-powered diagnostics have paved the way for targeted therapies and turned patients into cancer warriors.
This World Cancer Day, 4 February, let’s celebrate the advancements in science that have let many triumph over illness while extending and enriching their lives. Want to know how technology is rewriting the Cancer Story? Read on
On The Treatment Road
Cancer cases are rising, and so are the treatment costs. A single chemo session can cost ~Rs. 50,000, while advanced therapies like CAR-T cell therapy cost a mind-boggling 50 lakhs.
Thanks to expensive treatments, over 70% of cancer patients face financial ruin. It is a story echoed globally, with 25% of patients drowning in debt.
In urban India, hospitals like Tata Memorial Hospital are beacons of hope, though they also struggle with waiting lists and resource constraints.
Rural communities, on the other hand, don’t even have the basic diagnostic tools. Late diagnoses, limited options, and cultural taboos have become roadblocks to timely help.
Beyond Walls and Budgets
Telehealth has made reaching rural areas where cancer often remains unheard of possible. Initiatives like Project Aarogya use telemedicine to bring cervical cancer screening and awareness in remote villages to help women take control of their health.
Over 15 million consultations were conducted through telemedicine in 2022, proof that it has the potential to democratize healthcare.
Hospitals like Tata Memorial Hospital, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, and Adyar Cancer Institute offer subsidized treatment to millions via affordable bone marrow transplants and pioneering protocols for leukemia.
India’s Ayushman Bharat scheme aims to provide affordable cancer care to millions.
Pharma’s Shifting Role
The pharma’s aren’t the villains anymore. They’re now embracing initiatives to lower costs and make life-saving treatments accessible to many.
Initiatives like Gilead Sciences’ transparent pricing platform and other patient assistance programs make treatments affordable.
Indian pharma like Cipla and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories have crafted affordable generics like Nilotinib for chronic myeloid leukemia, slashing costs by up to 90%.
Merck has collaborated with Strand Life Sciences for cancer drug discovery. At the same time, Novartis has a licensing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool to make cancer drugs accessible in low- and middle-income countries.
Personalized medicine, tailored to individual genetic profiles like Roche’s HER2-targeted trastuzumab for breast cancer, is now possible, making such therapies more effective and less toxic.
The Key to Victory
Initiatives like the Cancer Moonshot Program and WHO’s Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer is fostering international collaboration, accelerating R&D, and ensuring equitable access to life-saving advancements.
Low-cost screening tests like VIA (visual inspection with acetic acid) are helping early cervical cancer detection. Aarogya in India is driving awareness and accessibility of such tests.
Companies like DeepMind are developing AI algorithms that accurately analyze mammograms and other scans, leading to earlier detection and better outcomes.
Cancer-sniffing dogs, like those trained by Medical Detection Dogs, can detect cancer with incredible sensitivity, even in its early stages.
AI-powered diagnostics where a simple blood test like Grail’s Galleri can detect multiple cancers at early stages, with 98% accuracy. Tata Memorial Hospital’s AI-powered OncoSurveillance platform is revolutionizing cancer screening and early detection in India.
Liquid biopsies, like Guardant Health’s LUNAR test, analyze circulating tumor DNA in blood, offering a less invasive and more precise way to diagnose and monitor cancer.
Targeted therapies like Foundation Medicine’s FoundationOne CDx can be tailored to each patient’s unique tumor profile, leading to effective, less toxic treatments.
Robotic surgery ensures unparalleled precision, minimizing scarring and improving recovery times. Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci system is already transforming cancer surgery, even in remote areas.
Are You Ready For…
3D-printed custom prosthetics to bio-printed organs. Companies like Stratasys are printing patient-specific surgical guides and tumor models, aiding in personalized treatment planning.
Immunotherapy uses your body’s immune system to fight cancer, while Merck’s Keytruda offers hope for previously untreatable cancers.
Novartis’ Kymriah, a CAR-T cell therapy, uses genetically engineered T cells to fight against leukemia and lymphoma.
Gene editing, i.e., CRISPR technology, can potentially correct genetic mutations responsible for causing cancer. Companies like Editas Medicine are leading the charge in this field.
The battle against cancer is far from over, but the horizon glows with the promise of a brighter dawn. It is a transformation journey, where each victory fuels the next, and innovation paves the way for progress.
I’m Archana R. Chettiar, an experienced content creator with
an affinity for writing on personal finance and other financial content. I
love to write on equity investing, retirement, managing money, and more.