The results from a pilot study on a small group of high-risk prostate cancer patients by Apollo Proton Cancer Centre (APCC) indicate that the proton therapy could significantly reduce side effects compared to conventional radiation therapy.
Doctors at the APCC said the full study is likely to take three years to complete and may involve around 150 patients. This study is among 17 such studies under way at the centre on various aspects of cancer-related clinical practice, with a specific focus on the Indian context.
With a majority of the research on cancer treatment coming from the western world, Rakesh Jalali, medical director and the head of Radiation Oncology at APCC, said there was a pressing need for studies in the Indian scenario to help patients here better as cancer cases continue to rise. He cited the example of head and neck cancer, which is very common in India, but hardly any studies are available.
Addressing the media on the occasion of World Cancer Research Day here on Saturday, Dr. Jalali said such studies can help in the early detection of cancers, identify the right kind of treatment and improve survivorship.
Srinivas Chilukuri, senior consultant, APCC, said that around 80% of cases of prostate cancers in India are diagnosed at an advanced stage in contrast to western countries where they are diagnosed at an early stage. He said the findings from studies in the western countries cannot be directly applied to the Indian scenario.
Apart from the the study on the evaluation of proton therapy for prostate cancer management, he said two more studies related to prostate cancer were under way. One of them was regarding radiomic prediction of the aggressiveness of the cancer for early intervention of radiation therapy and the other was using PSMA-PET imaging as a predictor of treatment outcome.
Sapna Nangia, senior consultant, APCC, said studies were under way on the treatment of breast cancer and management of geriatric cancer patients. In breast cancer, she said, an important study being done is on the impact of radiation therapy on the heart. She said this was important for India, where the incidence of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases was already high.
Roheet Rao, associate vice-president, IT and Oncology, APCC, elaborated on how technologies like cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning were used in clinical research in the centre.