Q: Can cancer be cured in the fourth or advanced stage with the help of available therapies? What is the position of India in cancer treatment and is there any alternative to chemotherapy, because it has many side effects? Can we hope for complete cancer treatment in near future without any side effects?
A:You cannot generalise cancer treatment. Some cancers are even curable in advanced stages. As a general rule, the higher the stage, the lesser are the chances of cure.
Treatment of cancer and their cure rates in India are no different from the West. Chemotherapy, if given properly and carefully, can cause much less side effects than is generally believed. Chemotherapy is a systemic form of treatment and therefore the side effects are also generalised affecting the entire body. We must remember that in this world for every good thing you get, you get to lose something, the side effects in this case.
There is every possibility that in very near future the entire scenario of cancer treatment will change with the advent of targeted therapies. Many targets have been found and many more will be found.
Surgeries have become less mutilating with the concept of organ preservation and radiation therapy has become more precise and conformal with the availability of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT).