Dr. Karthik KS is a renowned Surgical Oncologist in Mangalore and currently practicing in KMC Hospital, Mangalore. For the past 10 years, he has worked as a Cancer Surgeon. He is a well-known member of the Association of Medical Consultants.
Causes of Cancer
Dr. Karthik KS says, “There are many different things to what causes cancer. In a body, there is continuous change at the cellular level where old cells die and new cells take birth. There is a balance in the body between cell death and cell birth. When there is an imbalance that causes loss of cell death, it leads to multiplying cells which causes cancer.
This is caused by -
Environmental factors -
Immunity and environmental factors are related to each other. For eg. Smoking or chewing tobacco can affect immunity. The majority of it depends on host immunity. If host immunity is weaker on exposure to environmental factors like smoking or chewing tobacco, it will lead to cancer. This is how cancer is caused.”
Cancer cure and treatment
Dr. Karthik informs, ”We do not use the word CURE in cancer. We use the word for cancer patients as OVERALL SURVIVAL.
He gives an example and explains-
“In case of carcinoma of the breast- Stage I & II - overall survival for 5 - 10 years is 90-95%
In the case of papillary carcinoma of the thyroid - overall survival is 90-95%.
This is called the survival rate of cancer cases rather than cure. Cancer is a geriatric disease and is not usually seen in the younger population. Cancer patients are usually 50+ or 60+. Early detection of cancer will increase the survival rate and we can add more 10 - 15 years to life which is almost like living a normal life. We cannot call it CURE but it can be treated when we diagnose early and give a high survival rate.”
Cancer -GENETIC OR NON-GENETIC
Dr. Karthik informs, ”There can be two possibilities in case of cancer-
Familial - where the gene is transferred from generation to generation. There are few carriers like BRCA in breast and ovarian cancer. These range from 3-5%.
Familial cancers are genetic and are transferred from one generation to another.
Genetic - This relates to gene mutation which may result in an imbalance of environmental and host immunity due to genetic insults. Not all genetic insults are carried over from generation to generation.”
Modern technology and diagnosis for cancer
Dr. Karthik explains,” Awareness of cancer is very important. There is a lot of misleading information about cancer. The moment the word CANCER is used it means the end of life. It is not like that. Our aim should be to detect and diagnose the case at an early stage. Because of a lack of awareness, we are seeing patients in stages 3 and 4. We want this to shift to stages 1 and 2 to save more lives. I am a surgical oncologist dealing with solid tumors. Solid tumors are that tumor which we are able to operate on and remove. Other cancers are blood cancer which involves chemotherapy-based treatment. There is very good progress in chemotherapy-based treatment where there is an 85% cure in leukemia and lymphomas and such types of blood cancer.
For solid tumors, timing is important for the removal of solid tumors. For example, in the case of cancer of the rectum, when we treat a patient with radiation, the chances of local recurrence are very low. When radiation is not given, local recurrence chances are high as 30-40%. This makes a huge difference for cancer patients. Thus, timing is very important to judge treatment and operation.
Coming to advancements, we have minimal invasive cancer surgeries like laparoscopy and robotics. It is important to get treated according to oncology principles. When it comes to recent advances in chemotherapy, there is targeted therapy that is reducing the chances of long-term side- effects. It comes with a cost. Over time, this will become more reasonable and cost-friendly.”
Affordability of cancer treatment
Dr. Karthik KS says, “With so many government schemes, there are some options of treatment available. Not everyone may be able to take luxurious treatment. But, there are schemes and plannings like AYUSHMANN BHARAT which largely cover the population.
When it comes to laparoscopic and robotic surgery, is going to decrease the hospital stay by 2-3 days. The extra cost is not spent on the hospital stay. In the periphery, the hospital stay is cheaper. It's only about finding a good scientific reasonable doctor. They may have to shift to tier 2 or 3 cities for further treatment.”
Edited By: Dr.Rati Parwani
Contributed By: Dr. Karthik KS, Surgical Oncologist, KMC Hospital, Mangalore