New Age Technology can Help Indian Cancer Patients Save a Lot of Money

OncoStem Diagnostics, an Oncology focused company that enables personalised cancer treatment, is pleased to announce the publication of…

OncoStem Diagnostics, an Oncology focused company that enables personalised cancer treatment, is pleased to announce the publication of a review paper on the impact of over treatment of Early stage breast cancer on patients. The review indicates that in early-stage breast cancer where the risk of relapse is very low, overtreatment can be damaging to a patient both physically and financially. To avoid this, 6 senior cancer specialists from across India who authored the paper advocate that patients opt for OncoStem’s ‘CanAssist Breast’ a prognostic test designed to classify patients depending on the risk of cancer recurrence. Low-risk patients typically do not benefit from adding chemotherapy to the treatment regime. OncoStem’s “Made in India” test is developed and validated on Indian patients and thus is most suitable. By analysing the aggressiveness of patient’s tumor CanAssist Breast identifies patients who will have minimal benefit (Low-risk) or who will benefit the most (high risk) by adding chemotherapy to their treatment.

Senior Cancer Specialist from across India have contributed to the study

The review paper brings out key insights on the need for a personalized approach for treating breast cancer. The oncologists who authored the paper are Dr. G S Bhattacharyya (Salt Lake Medical Center Kolkata), Dr. DC Doval (RGCI, Delhi), Dr. Chirag Desai (Vedanta, Ahmedabad), Dr. Harit Chaturvedi (Max Hospital, Delhi), Dr. Sanjay Sharma (ACI, Mumbai) and Dr. Somashekhar S P (Manipal, Bangalore). These renowned oncologists have a combined experience of 15 decades in Oncology and are key opinion leaders with many scientific publications to their names.

Commenting on the review, Dr. Manjiri Bakre, CEO and Founder, OncoStem Diagnostics said, “We are pleased by the insights provided by this team of esteemed and highly experienced oncologists. This is a great validation for ‘CanAssist Breast’ and the team behind the research. The benefit that early-stage patients receive from chemotherapy is usually low. Since most early-stage patients can do well without chemotherapy, this makes accurate risk prediction an all-important prerequisite for effective treatment. It is therefore necessary to find out patients with low-risk of cancer recurrence to avoid chemotherapy, given its side effects and the toll it takes on the patients’ quality of life. Currently, despite prognostic tests that predict risk of cancer recurrence being widely adopted in the West, most Indian patients do not have access to these expensive tests. As a result, most Indian patients, including those who might have a ‘low risk of recurrence’, are often prescribed chemotherapy and consequently bear toxic effects of chemotherapy treatment that reduces their quality of life. Especially in the times of COVID-19 pandemic, taking chemotherapy in a hospital can increase patient’s risk of contracting the infection. A test like ‘CanAssist Breast’ which can be helpful to doctors and patients determine the risk-benefit ratio of chemotherapy and plan accordingly.

There is also a huge cost to administering chemotherapy, whether paid for by the patient, insurance companies or the Indian Government. If the use of chemotherapy can be evidence-driven using a test like CanAssist Breast, then it can lead to potential cost savings to the patient, insurance companies and Government of about INR 700 crores per annum. This is especially beneficial in a country like India where the breast cancer incidence is rising dramatically.

Prof. Dr. Somashekhar S P, Chairman & HOD Surgical Oncology-MHEPL (Manipal Health Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore) added, “‘CanAssist Breast’ is backed with robust scientific background and research. It’s highly accurate, well validated on Indian patients and has a short turn around time. The test stratifies low and high risk breast cancer hormonal receptor patients and avoids unnecessary chemotherapy. In addition to this, it is highly cost effective without compromising the outcomes. It can help oncologists, tailor make risk stratification and better treatment planning.”

Dr. Harit Chaturvedi, Chairman, Max Institute of Cancer Care, Delhi said, “CanAssist Breast test helps in identifying the group of patients for whom chemotherapy is not helpful. We avoid the cost and side effects without compromising on the outcomes. The exorbitant cost of other tests serving the same purpose was beyond the reach of our population. ‘CanAssist Breast’ will lead to wide application of this knowledge and help tailor breast cancer treatment better than ever.

The burden of a breast cancer diagnosis is multifold – women experience the physical trauma of cancer treatment as well as psycho-social issues due to side-effects of the treatment. Patients and their families undergo considerable financial toxicity in terms of high treatment costs, wage loss and loss in productivity. This is especially critical in India where most medical expenditure is out of their own savings. Most families experience catastrophic payments and financial distress as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis. With early-stage breast cancer where the risk of relapse is very low, overtreatment can be damaging to a patient both physically and financially. The review paper summarizes studies from India have shown that the cost of drugs like the chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment account for more than 1/3rd of a patient’s total cost of illness. Other than medical expenses, patients also experience financial distress to the tune of an extra 20% of cost of treatment, due to loss of income (both patient and caregiver) while undergoing cancer treatment, as well as travel and accommodation expenses incurred for treatment.

Breast cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease. Decades of research has shown that breast cancer has clearly distinguishable subtypes that need to be treated differently. A personalized approach is required to ensure optimal treatment. Treatment can easily be de-escalated for early stage breast cancer patients using biomarker based tests that determine the risk of recurrence and guide treatment accordingly. Studies have shown that patients with low risk of relapse can safely avoid chemotherapy with no difference in survival. We now have an Indian solution CanAssist Breast that can help 70% breast cancer patients safely avoid chemotherapy. Indian patients can now take advantage of the latest in science and technology to improve their quality of life and decrease their financial burden.

About OncoStem Diagnostics

OncoStem Diagnostics, founded by Dr. Manjiri Bakre, develops innovative multi-marker prognostic tests to enable personalized treatment of cancer patients. OncoStem’s ‘CanAssist Breast’ is an innovative, cost effective test that can help clinicians to plan tailor made treatment for each breast cancer patient based on tumor biology.

The risk of cancer recurrence is dependent on tumor type, stage and on the biology of each patient’s tumor. ‘CanAssist-Breast’ determines the proteomic fingerprint of the tumor. This information is then used by OncoStem’s proprietary machine learning-based algorithm that stratifies patients as ‘low or high’ risk for cancer recurrence. Patients classified as ‘high-risk’ would have a greater probability of the cancer recurring than those classified as low-risk. This will guide clinicians in planning treatment and help patients in understanding the prognosis of their disease.

OncoStem is currently working on similar tests for other subtypes of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. OncoStem has raised US $9 million in funding from Sequoia Capital and Artiman Ventures.


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