Kidney cancer is a rising ailment the world over. According to the Global Cancer Laboratory, it is the 16th most common cancer in the world. In India, it is a matter of concern as the most widely affected population is below the age of 50.
Dr Gagan Gautam, vice chairman-Uro Oncology and Robotic Surgery, Urology and Andrology, Kidney and Urology Institute, Medanta, Gurugram, speaks about advancements in available treatments which give fresh hope to advanced stage patients.
What are the recent advancements in medical science that give hope to patients?Kidney cancer, also known as renal cell carcinoma, poses a significant health challenge worldwide. Recent advancements in medical science have brought new hope for patients, especially those in the advanced stages of the disease. In India, notable progress has been made in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of kidney cancer, significantly improving patient outcomes.
Early detection is crucial for successful treatment outcomes. In India, advancements in imaging technologies, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET), have enabled more accurate diagnosis and staging of kidney cancer. These non-invasive imaging techniques allow doctors to identify tumours and determine their size, location, and extent of spread to other areas in the body. Furthermore, advancements in molecular diagnostics, including genetic testing and biomarker analysis, help oncologists tailor personalised treatment plans based on the specific characteristics of a patient's tumour.
How have targeted therapies contributed to treatment?
Targeted therapies have revolutionised the treatment landscape. Several targeted therapies, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), have been approved, offering new treatment options. TKIs like sunitinib, pazopanib, and axitinib inhibit specific enzymes involved in tumours growth and spread, effectively halting disease progression and prolonging survival. ICIs such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab enhance the body's immune response against cancer cells, providing an innovative approach to combat kidney cancer.
What about surgical techniques?
Advancements in surgical techniques have been a gamechanger in reducing the invasiveness of kidney cancer treatment in India, resulting in improved patient outcomes and faster recovery times. Laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgeries have gained popularity due to their precision and minimal scarring. These minimally invasive approaches enable surgeons to remove tumours while preserving healthy kidney tissue, especially in cases of partial nephrectomy. Additionally, image-guided ablation techniques, including radiofrequency or cryoablation, offer a non-surgical option for patients who are not suitable for surgery or have smaller tumours, expanding the treatment options available.
What does a comprehensive care regime look like?
There is a need for collaboration among different medical specialties comprising of medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, and pathologists, who can work together to develop individualized treatment plans and monitor patients' progress. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that patients receive integrated care from experts in different fields, optimising treatment outcomes. Furthermore, India's active participation in international clinical trials plays a significant role in evaluating new treatment modalities and advancing kidney cancer research, giving patients access to innovative therapies and improving outcomes for those with advanced-stage kidney cancer.
A continuous drive for innovation and the development of new treatment options offers a brighter future for those battling kidney cancer in India.