Going Beyond Cure In Cancer Care

Worldwide statistics indicate that currently two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer will have a long-term cure. Without doubt, cure is the most important outcome in cancer care. Having said that, it is also important to focus on outcomes beyond cure. Consider the following examples of people (names changed), all of whom have … Read more

Rectal Cancer Treatment In The Present Day: Organ Conservation And Beyond

A little over a century ago, cancer of the rectum was incurable. Not only was the disease fatal, but in later stages, it was often accompanied by profound physical agony and pain, apart from indignity caused by incontinence to stools. In 1907, the English surgeon Ernest Miles described an operation for rectal cancer which removed … Read more

The Emotions Under The Surgeon’s Mask

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do much.” – Helen Keller Last week, I had the privilege of operating alongside Dr Narendra, a cardiothoracic surgeon and my friend of 30 years. It was a challenging surgery – the patient, a young girl had a cancerous tumor going from her neck down into … Read more

“Can an Ovarian Cancer disappear without treatment?”

“Can an Ovarian Cancer go away on its own?” Mrs. Shalini was very distressed. She had come in for a consultation because an ultrasound scan done as part of a routine health check-up showed that she had a large ovarian mass. “Doctor, I have been scouring the internet about my condition. I came across a … Read more

What Is Stage 0 Cancer?

As we discussed in a previous article, the lethal nature of cancer is because of its propensity to invade (grow into adjacent tissues and organs) and metastasize (spread to distant organs). Cancers occur as a result of normal cells becoming abnormal (mutation). Once the cells become cancerous, cancer progresses in stages. The stage when individual … Read more

“Will I Need A Colostomy After Rectal Cancer Surgery?”

A major concern for people undergoing surgery for rectal cancer is whether they will require a stoma, and whether it will be a temporary or a permanent one. This article discusses the factors that determine the need for a stoma. A stoma or ostomy (from the Greek word for “mouth” or “opening”) is an opening … Read more

Is Mastectomy A Better Surgery For Breast Cancer Than Breast Conservation?

For many (but not all) women with breast cancer that requires surgery, there is an option to choose between mastectomy and breast-conserving surgery (BCS). Mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast, whereas BCS preserves the breast, removing only the cancer with a small margin of normal tissue. BCS is also known as lumpectomy or … Read more

How Is Cancer Surgery Different From Other Surgeries? Part 2: Adjuvant Therapy

For many illnesses requiring surgery, surgery is often the standalone treatment. Hernia surgery, removal of the appendix or gall bladder for infections, removal of benign tumors, surgery for injuries – in all these, once the surgery is done, no further treatment is required other than a period of recovery/rehabilitation. In cancer treatment, things are different. … Read more

Is My Cancer Treatable?

Most people are overwhelmed when they learn they have cancer. Among the multitude of questions that start running through the mind, a key concern is “Is my cancer treatable?” This article gives a perspective into the meaning of “treat” and “cure” in the context of oncology. The goals of cancer treatment are to: Cure. Prolong … Read more