Cancer Care: Frequently Asked Questions
Your doctor will use cancer staging to determine whether or not your cancer has spread locally and to assess its aggressiveness. This information aids them in devising the most effective treatment plan for you. Cancer has four stages, from stage 1 to stage 4 that describe its onset and spread.
Cancer in its early stages is referred to as stage 1. As the disease progresses, it is termed stage 2, 3 and 4. Stage 4 cancer, also known as metastatic cancer, occurs when cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Before the introduction of molecular imaging and other advanced diagnostic technologies, this is how cancer staging was performed.
Today, with new-age diagnostic procedures available, our specialists can recognise multiple variations of stage 4 cancers. In recent years, patients with stage 4 cancers are also having promising prognostics – even in cases where the disease has spread from one organ to another. For example, today, patients with breast cancer that has spread to their bones can be treated with a better prognosis, i.e., they can still lead better quality lives for many years.
Each case is different, and in many cases, advanced-stage (stage 4) cancers are very much treatable. The moment we take up a cancer case, there are a few things that we do. We find the location from where the tumour has originated, the degree at which the organ function is hampered, the areas where it has spread and the overall health condition of the patient. Based on this data, we analyse the prognosis.
For a clear understanding of their condition, patients must always have a detailed discussion with their multidisciplinary expert team, who will be devising the best suitable treatment plan for them.
Cancer is a challenging and complex health condition, and ensuring it is treated the right way, the first time is of paramount importance. Here, at HCG, we treat all cancer cases with a multimodal approach. The advent of advanced diagnostic procedures, genomics and cutting-edge treatment protocols has enabled high-level precision both in diagnosis and treatment delivered.
Firstly, different aspects such as the type of cancer, its genetic make-up, biomarker levels, its stage, its place of origin, aggressiveness, spread, and the overall status of the patient are analysed using testing procedures, such as tissue diagnosis, imaging, and biomarker assays.
A multidisciplinary team comprising a pathologist, radiologist, surgical oncologist, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist decides on the best treatment approach for the patient based on this information, along with an estimate of long-term prognosis. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy are the main treatment options considered for the disease management.
At HCG, we believe in fighting cancer as a team. The patient, family members, doctors, and paramedical personnel work together as a team to help the patient battle cancer. All interventions at HCG are designed to assist patients in achieving better health outcomes and an excellent quality of life.
The current status of your condition will be detailed in your tumour diagnosis report. MRI, genetic testing, blood tests, X-rays, PET/CT scans, biopsies, and other diagnostic procedures are the regularly used diagnostic procedures.
The diagnostic data gathered thus will help your doctor in developing the best treatment plan and estimating the long-term prognosis.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be an overwhelming experience; nevertheless, patients must know that cancers can be treated if caught early.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, ask your doctor the following questions to have a better understanding of your situation:
- From where is my tumour originating?
- Has the disease spread anywhere in the body?
- What domy diagnostic reports say?
- What is the suitable treatment plan for my condition, and what is its goal?
- How would this treatment plan work and what would the response be?
- Will the treatmentscause pain?
- What is my long-term prognosis?
- What are the possible side effects associated with these treatments?
- How will these treatments affect my quality of life?
- What can I do to keep myself healthy during the treatment?
- Should I be taking any precautions before the treatment? If so, what are they?
- Is cancer hereditary? Will my kids get cancer too?
- What impact will this treatment have on my day-to-day life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and go about my daily routine?
- Is there a specific diet that I should follow? Or can I have normal diet?
- Should my family or I opt for psychological counselling?
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, be sure you get all of the information you need before beginning treatment.
The highest priority at HCG is given to providing excellent cancer care. Our diagnostic protocols come with superior degree precision. We have a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of highly trained oncologists that meet up regularly to review challenging cancer cases, consider the pros and cons of various therapy options, and ultimately devise the optimal treatment plan for our patients.
Expertise that comes from our largest network of oncologists and the cutting-edge technology allow us to deliver the right treatment, the first time.
a. My radiation therapy starts next week. What should I expect, and what can I do to manage the side effects?
Your expert team will lay out all of the relevant information about the treatment, any side effects, after-care procedures, and follow-ups prior to your radiation treatment.
You can always contact your doctor for any treatment-related information. Since each patient reacts to the disease and treatment differently, the side effects likewise vary from one patient to the next.
If you have any adverse effects, you can contact your expert team, who will assist you in managing them properly.
b. My chemotherapy/immunotherapy/biotherapy session is scheduled for next week. How should I be prepared for it?
Chemotherapy is one of the main line of treatments for cancer. Chemotherapy was once dreaded by patients because of its complexity. Over the years, chemotherapy is made more tolerable for patients, and also, approaches that are more precise than chemotherapy are being preferred lately. Patients are demonstrating better tolerance to cancer treatments today as improved and safer therapeutic techniques such as immunotherapy, biotherapy, and targeted therapy have become available. These approaches allow patients to maintain an active lifestyle even during the treatment.
Patients frequently speak with strangers or family members about their therapy and create opinions based on these conversations. This, however, is not recommended. Each patient’s reaction to the treatment is different; therefore, any queries or concerns should be discussed with the doctor or the expert team only.
Many factors with respect to the treatment and side effects are dependent on the stage of the disease and the genetic makeup of each patient, thus treatment decisions and precautions must be taken on a case-by-case basis.
c. My cancer surgery is scheduled for next week. How should I be prepared for the procedure?
When the treatment plan is discussed, the surgery team will spell out all of the pertinent details about the procedure. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to express them.
At HCG, all treatment plans are made with a special focus on the quality of life throughout and after the treatment.
Patients and their caregivers will receive written instructions on after-care measures following surgery, which must be properly followed. Also, the patients must consult the radiation oncologist and medical oncologist before the discharge.
Cancer is a heterogeneous disease. Every cancer type exhibits unique biochemical properties, and this is true even among cancers of the same type. For instance, when two patients are diagnosed with breast cancer, it does not mean that their cancers are identical or that they will respond to the same treatment approach. This is where personalised medicine comes into picture.
We deliver value-based and precision medicine at HCG, and this allows us to treat each cancer patient with a tailored or personalised treatment plan.
Initially, we do a thorough investigation of diagnostic characteristics such as pathology results, imaging data, genetic make-up, hormone receptor status, prognostic indicators, and so on for each cancer case. The expert team creates a tailored treatment plan after a thorough evaluation of the diagnostic information and the patient’s overall condition. A single treatment modality, such as surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, biotherapy and radiotherapy, or a combination of multiple modalities, could be used in each treatment plan.
We strive for favourable clinical results and to meet International cancer care standards in each instance.
Our care deliver approaches have been lauded by the industry experts in a case study published in Harvard Business Review; this study reported that that our clinical outcomes are comparable to those of some of the world’s best cancer centres.
Before beginning any treatment, patients and their families should consider three factors: the appropriate treatment, the potential financial burden, and whether the clinical outcome at the institute meets international standards.
HCG delivers value-based medicine to its patients, according to a Harvard Business Review study. Despite treatment prices being significantly lower than those at a number of reputed cancer centres across the world, HCG provides high-quality healthcare without compromising clinical outcomes.
Financial constraints may cause patients to compromise on their treatment in a few cases. However, this could result in cancer recurrence, which could lead to major problems and require an even more expensive treatment strategy. Therefore, we encourage our patients to purchase insurance, which allows them to receive necessary therapies immediately.
Patients can share their financial concerns with their expert team and Medico-Social Workers (MSWs) at HCG, who can connect them with the HCG Foundation, a non-profit organisation that helps economically weaker patients. We also specialise in using crowdfunding to help patients from economically weaker sections.
Yes, our expert team advises every cancer patient to consider genetic testing and counselling.
Because genetic mutations affect family members as well, it is recommended that all family members get genetic testing and counselling. For instance, in cases of breast cancer, genetic testing helps in the identification of indicators that could possibly indicate a family history of the disease and, as a result, facilitates appropriate family counselling. In some cases, this supports disease control or prevention.
HCG has a huge team of highly trained genomics specialists, who are experts in genetic testing and counselling. This group will assist you in comprehending the genetics of your health condition, which is essential for making an informed decision.
Stress has been proven to have a significant impact on cancer management, according to multiple clinical studies.
However, it has been found that patients who seek professional psychological help have a greater ability to cope with their health condition, higher tolerance for treatment, better overall quality of life, maintain a positive outlook throughout the therapy, and, most notably, have promising clinical outcomes. Therefore, stress management and psychological counselling play an important part in cancer treatment.
HCG houses a unique psycho-oncology branch that focuses on addressing the emotional requirements of cancer patients and their caregivers while also allowing them to have a seamless cancer journey. We also encourage our patients to meet our medico social workers and the members of our Pink Hope Support Group, which is a team of survivors who have fought and won over multiple cancer types, as this can put them at ease.
Fear, worry and panic attacks are completely natural reactions to a cancer diagnosis.
It is important to note that many cancer sufferers are now living normal lives. Talking to someone who has been where you are currently might sometimes help you gain a grip on reality. A casual talk with the members of Pink Hope Cancer Support Group could have the potential to inspire, strengthen, infuse positivity and hope, and boost your overall morale. These meetings can be held over the phone or in person.
Our suggestion to our patients is to seek the appropriate treatment, conquer fear and maintain a positive outlook on life throughout the cancer journey. This will help them in returning to their regular life following treatment.
Your experienced team will provide you with a treatment schedule as well as tests that will be performed to determine the efficacy of the treatment.
Depending on the type and stage of cancer you were diagnosed with, as well as the sort of therapy you received, your professional team may recommend tests such as blood tests, biomarker testing and a PET scan.
In addition to these tests, you will be scheduled for follow-up sessions every few months to discuss your treatment response and long-term prognosis in detail. It is important for patients to know that long term follow-up is critical as advised by the doctors.
You should prevent any delays or disturbances in your chemotherapy dose and timing if you want to get the most out of your cancer treatment.
Because each cancer case is unique, we highly advise our patients to communicate with the expert team and medical social workers throughout their treatment. The importance of communication between the patient and the professional team cannot be overstated. We encourage our patients to speak out if they have any doubts or concerns about the treatment, which will be handled right away.
After the cancer treatment is completed, the experienced team will provide the patients with a thorough report on follow-up care and diagnostics, as well as information on probable side effects.
With the emergence of precision therapy in recent years, side effects have become substantially less common than they were decades ago. The majority of treatments are now done on an outpatient basis. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, etc., can all be precisely targeted towards the tumour today. There are also no long-term side effects.
We’ve had teachers, farmers, IT professionals, health experts, and business professionals fighting cancer bravely and returning to their normal lives with ease, and we expect the same from every cancer patient we treat.
If the patients experience any side effects, they must immediately inform the expert staff so that medical assistance can be provided.
We, at HCG, encourage our patients to remain active and continue working.
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.
Patients with a positive attitude about cancer require very little assistance or support. HCG’s patient-centric and individualised treatment plans allow patients to live a normal life even while undergoing therapy.
Having an overall positive look is important – patients should not see themselves as victims and choose to succumb to the disease. The medical science today is advanced and every disease has not one but multiple treatment options.
We promote counselling and frequent interactions with family members and the Pink Hope Support Group so that patients’ overall quality of life is not harmed, and they can continue to be productive at home, at work, and in society.at large.
In most cases, there will be no significant dietary limitations. We advise you to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. In some cases, doctors may suggest a few restrictions. For example, a low-fat diet may be recommended for breast cancer patients. On the other hand, if patients are obese, we may recommend weight management programmes as obesity is considered a risk factor for relapse. Therefore, it is important for cancer survivors to maintain a healthy weight.
You can also speak with one of our onco-dieticians, who can provide you with high-quality, complete diet regimens to help you maintain your overall health.
Cancer Care and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions
There is no hard evidence that cancer patients are more susceptible to COVID-19 infection. Furthermore, there is little evidence to demonstrate that COVID-19 causes an increase in cancer patient mortality.
We have successfully treated COVID-19 patients at HCG, and the majority of them have recovered without any problems.
If you have any questions regarding your treatment or the possibility of COVID-19 infection, you should contact your treating oncologist at HCG.
Yes, our patients are encouraged to keep their follow-up appointments. At HCG, we take a number of precautions to protect the safety and well-being of our patients and employees.
We’ve also made virtual consultations available to provide follow-up treatment for our patients.
For proper advice on your follow-up appointments, please contact your HCG specialist team.
Because of the coronavirus restrictions, your cancer treatment will not be compromised. However, while visiting us for cancer treatment, you must follow the essential preventative steps given out by the health ministry.
It is not possible to stop the cancer treatment. To avoid unintended harm from delayed cancer treatment, it is critical to complete the course of treatment without interruption.
Please speak with your medical team, who will advise you on the appropriate measures to follow during your treatment.
If you test positive for COVID-19 while undergoing cancer treatment, contact your treating oncologist right away and follow his instructions.
The majority of the time, cancer treatment can be continued without issue. There are, however, exceptions.
Before making any decisions, it is always a good idea to consult with your medical team, who will assist you in making the right decision.
Yes, you can get the COVID vaccine while undergoing cancer treatment. It’s just as crucial to protect oneself from the new coronavirus as it is to get cancer therapy.
All cancer patients must mandatorily take vaccination, which helps in curbing the risk of infection.
Please consult your expert team prior to vaccination to determine the best time to get the vaccine based on your treatment regimen and to learn about any precautionary steps that may be necessary.