Cancer staging helps your doctor understand whether or not your
cancer has spread locally and study its aggressiveness. This
information helps them come up with the best treatment plan for
you. The origin and spread of cancer are expressed in four
stages – stage 1 to stage 4.
What do different stages of cancer mean?
Stage 1 cancer means early-stage cancer. Based on the levels,
would be in more advanced stages between 2, 3 and 4. Usually,
cancer means the cancer has spread to other organs in the body,
is also called metastatic cancer. This kind of staging was done
time ago before the advent of molecular imaging and other
advanced diagnostic tools.
Today, with advanced diagnostic procedures in place, we are able
to recognise several variations of stage 4 cancers. In recent
years, patients with stage 4 cancers are having promising
prognostics even if the cancer in one organ has spread to
another. For example, patients with breast cancer that has
spread to their bones can still live for many years.
Each case is different, and stage 4 cancers are very much
treatable in many cases. In every cancer case, it is important
for us to understand where the cancer is originating, the areas
where it has spread, the degree at which the organ-function is
disrupted and the overall condition of the patient. Based on
this information, the prognosis can be predicted.
Patients should always have a detailed discussion with the
experts and multidisciplinary team for a clear understanding
of their condition, its type and the suitable treatment plan.
Cancer is a complex disease and receiving the right treatment,
the first time is of paramount importance. At HCG, cancer cases
are treated with a multimodal approach. Today, with the
availability of advanced diagnostic procedures, genomics
and cutting-edge treatment protocols, high-level precision
can be achieved both in diagnosis and therapy.
Initially, using testing procedures like tissue diagnosis,
imaging and tests for biomarkers, various factors like the
type of cancer, its genetic make-up, bio-marker levels,
its stage, the site of origin, aggressiveness, its spread
and the overall condition of the patient are analysed.
Based on this information, a multidisciplinary team
consisting of a pathologist, radiologist, medical oncologist
and radiation oncologist collectively decide on the best
treatment plan possible for the patient along with the
estimation of long-term prognosis. Treatment could be
given in the form of surgery, radiation therapy,
chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, hormone
therapy or other treatment modalities.
Cancer treatment is a team effort of the patient,
family members, specialists and the paramedics.
At HCG, all treatments are planned with a goal
to achieve a positive clinical outcome and provide
a good quality of life for our patients.
A tumour diagnosis report will have information about the
current status of your condition. The commonly used diagnostic
procedures include MRI, genomic testing, blood test, X-ray,
PET-CT, biopsy, etc.
The diagnosis of the tumour based on the above details
will help the expert team to come up with the right
treatment recommendation and have a discussion on the
possible side effects along with an estimation of the
Once the cancer is diagnosed, make sure to get all the
before proceeding with the treatment.
At HCG, quality cancer care is given utmost importance.
Our diagnostic practices come with high degree precision.
We have a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of skilled
oncologists, who together discuss each cancer case,
weigh the pros and cons of each treatment method
and eventually come up with the best treatment
plan for every patient we care for.
We are empowered with the expertise of eminent
oncologists and cutting-edge technology that
allow us to deliver the right treatment, the first time.
My radiation therapy starts next week. What should I expect,
and what can I do to decrease the fatigue?
Before the treatment, your expert team will lay out
all the necessary information about the treatment,
possible side effects, after-care practices and follow-ups.
For any treatment-related information, you must always
discuss with your team of experts. Each patient reacts
to the disease and the treatment differently, and therefore,
the side effects also vary from patient to patient.
If you are experiencing any side effects, you can get in touch
with your team of experts, who will help you manage them
My chemotherapy/immunotherapy/biotherapy session is scheduled
for next week. How should I be prepared for it?
Chemotherapy is one of the effective treatment modalities used
in cancer care. In the past, patients feared chemotherapy due to
its complexity. But today, the role of chemotherapy in cancer
treatment has reduced significantly. With the advent of advanced
treatment modalities like immunotherapy, biotherapy and targeted
therapy that are associated with fewer side effects, patients
are exhibiting better tolerance towards the treatment. The
patients are also able to lead an active life throughout the
course of the treatment.
Usually, patients tend to talk to random people or family
members regarding the treatment and form opinions based
on those conversations. However, we do not encourage this
as each case, just like each patient, is unique.
A lot of the factors pertaining to the treatment and side
effects also depend on the stage of the disease and each
patient’s genetic make-up, and therefore, the treatment
decisions and precautions are to be taken on a
case-to-case basis. Hence, the patients must have a
detailed discussion about their treatment plan with
the expert team for a better understanding.
My cancer surgery is scheduled for next week. How should I be
prepared for the procedure?
The surgery team will lay out all the necessary information
about the procedure when the treatment plan is discussed. If you
have any queries or doubts regarding the procedure, you can
share them with your expert team without any hesitation.
At HCG, all treatment plans are devised with a special focus
on the quality of life of the patients during and after the
treatment. Following the surgery, written instructions on
the after-care practices will be given to the patients and
their caregivers, which are to be strictly followed.
Cancer is a heterogeneous disease. Each individual cancer
possesses different biological characteristics, and this holds
good for the cancers of the same type too. If two patients are
diagnosed with breast cancer, it does not necessarily mean that
their cancers are the same, or they can be treated successfully
with the same treatment plan. These circumstances call for the
need of personalised medicine.
At HCG, we practice value-based and precision medicine, which
us treat each cancer case with a unique treatment plan.
Initially, for each cancer case, we conduct a detailed study
on the diagnostic parameters such as pathology results,
imaging results, genetic make-up, hormone receptor status,
prognostic factors, etc. After the thorough assessment of
the diagnostic information and the overall condition of the
patient, the expert team devises a personalised treatment
plan. This treatment plan could involve a single
treatment modality, such as surgery, chemotherapy,
immunotherapy, targeted therapy, biotherapy and
radiotherapy or a combination of multiple modalities.
With each case, we strive to pursue positive clinical
outcomes and meet the global standards of cancer care.
This has been substantiated by the Harvard Business
Review case study, which has reported that our clinical
outcomes are on par with that of some of the finest cancer
centres around the world.
Before starting any treatment, the patients and their family
members should focus on three things - the right treatment, the
possible financial burden and knowing if the clinical outcome at
the said institute is as per the global standards.
According to the HBR study, HCG offers value-based
medicine to its patients. Despite the treatment costs
being far less than that at several reputed cancer centres
around the world, HCG delivers quality healthcare without
compromising the clinical outcomes.
In a few circumstances, financial difficulties force patients
to compromise with their treatment. However, this compromise
may lead to recurrence, which may cause serious complications
and demand an even more expensive treatment plan. Therefore,
we encourage our patients to opt for insurance, which helps
them seamlessly access necessary treatments.
At HCG, patients can discuss their financial constraints
with their expert team and Medico-Social Workers (MSWs),
who can put them in touch with the HCG Foundation - a
not-for-profit initiative that provides monetary assistance
to financially-marginalised patients.
Yes, our expert team recommends genetic testing and counselling
for every cancer patient.
It is advised that the family members undergo genetic testing
and counselling too, as genetic mutations affect the family
members as well. For example, in breast cancer cases, genetic
testing helps in identifying the markers and accordingly
facilitate proper counselling to the family members. This
eventually helps in controlling or preventing the disease in
HCG houses a large team of skilled genetic experts who are
well-versed in genetic testing and counselling. This team will
help you understand the genetics of your condition, which is
crucial for you to make an informed decision about your
Several studies have shown that stress can play a huge role in
Patients, who seek professional psychological assistance, have
better ability to cope with the illness, hold a positive outlook
throughout treatment, exhibit better tolerance to the treatment,
experience an overall improved quality of life and most
importantly, report successful clinical outcomes. Therefore,
yes, stress and psychological counselling play a significant
role in cancer care.
HCG houses a very unique psycho-oncology division that focuses
on meeting the emotional needs of the cancer patients and their
caregivers and facilitating a seamless cancer journey for them.
We strongly recommend psycho-oncology counselling for all our
patients as it positively impacts their long-term outcome.
Fear, anxiety and panic attacks following a cancer diagnosis are
completely normal. What one must know is that a lot of cancer
patients are leading a normal life today. At times, talking to
someone who’s been where you are right now helps you get a hold
of reality. Pink Hope Cancer Support Group is a special support
system at HCG, whose members are the survivors of various types
of cancer. A casual conversation with them might inspire you,
strengthen you, infuse positivity and hope and boost your
overall morale. Meetings can happen via video conference or
Our best advice to our patients is to take the right treatment,
overcome fear and have an overall positive outlook towards life
– all of which promote a normal life after the treatment.
To achieve the best benefit of your cancer treatment, you should
kind of delays and disruptions in your chemotherapy dose and
Since each cancer case is different, we strongly recommend our
patients to be in touch with the expert team and the MSWs
throughout the treatment. Communication between the patient and
the expert team is very much important. We encourage our
patients to promptly discuss if there are any apprehensions and
concerns regarding the treatment, which will be addressed
Once the cancer treatment is completed, the expert team will be
sharing a detailed report on the follow-up care and follow-up
tests with the patients, along with the information on possible
In recent years, with the advent of precision therapy, the
incidence of side effects is far less compared to what was seen
decades ago. Today, most treatments are given on an outpatient
basis. There are no long-term adverse effects too.
We’ve had teachers, farmers, tech professionals, health
professionals and business professionals get back to their
normal lives without any difficulties, and this is something we
expect from every cancer patient we treat.
In case the patients are experiencing any side effects, it has
to be discussed with the expert team, who will be immediately
providing necessary assistance.
We, at HCG, encourage our patients to remain active and continue
with their work.
Our treatment model is extremely patient-centric. With the
availability of a myriad of individualised treatment plans, HCG
always makes the wellbeing of its patients – a top priority.
We customise the treatment plans according to our patients’
activities in order to ensure that the treatment happens
smoothly without any hassles and does not interfere with the
lifestyle of the patients.
Lastly, immense support from the family and an overall positive
outlook are very important, as these positively impact the
clinical outcome and recovery process.
Cancer patients with a positive approach towards the disease
require very little help or support. The patient-centric and
customised treatment plans that HCG allow patients to have a
normal life throughout the course of the treatment.
We encourage counselling and frequent interactions with the
family members and Pink Hope Support Group, so that the overall
quality of life of the patients is not affected and patients can
continue to be productive at home, work and in the society at
Usually, there will be no diet restrictions. We recommend you to
have healthy balanced meals. You can also talk to our dieticians
who are specialised in oncology and can offer high-quality,
comprehensive diet plans that can support your overall
Frequently Asked Questions – Pertaining to Covid-19
There is no hard evidence to say that cancer patients are more likely to get sick from COVID-19. Also,
there is no sufficient data to suggest that COVID-19 causes higher mortality among cancer patients.
At HCG, we have managed COVID-19 patients without any problems, and a majority of our patients have
Your treating oncologist at HCG is the best person to reach out to, in case you have any questions
about your treatment and possible COVID-19 infection.
No, your cancer treatment will not be affected due to coronavirus restrictions. However, you are requested
to follow the necessary precautionary measures laid by the health ministry while visiting us for your
Discontinuing the cancer treatment is not an option. Completing the course of treatment without disruption
is crucial to prevent collateral damage of delayed cancer treatment.
Kindly talk to your medical team who will guide you with the necessary precautions that are to be taken
during the treatment.