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Low-Cost Anaesthesia Can Up Breast Cancer Recovery Rate: Tata Memorial Study

Study authors say this intervention is both inexpensive and can be easily administered without additional expertise.

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Edited By :Padmashree Pande

A simple, low cost intervention with a local anaesthesia drug (lidocaine) can help increase post-surgery survival rate in breast cancer patients, finds a landmark Indian study conducted by the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai.

The study results were presented by the Dr Rajendra Badwe, Director, Tata Memorial Centre, at the annual European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Paris, on Monday, 12 September.

The findings of this study, according to the researchers, could be a game changer in breast cancer treatment as it is inexpensive and can be easily administered without additional expertise.

"This is the first study of its kind globally, that has shown a sizable benefit by single intervention prior to surgery. If implemented across the world, it has the capability to save over 100,000 lives annually."
Dr Rajendra Badwe, Director, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai to the media
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Key Points of the Study

Here is a quick run-through of how the study was conducted.

  • It was a randomised controlled trial conducted over 11 years between 2011 and 2022.

  • It involved 11 cancer centres in India, including Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai.

  • 1,600 women participated in the study.

  • All of them were women with early breast cancer who were planned to be treated with a surgery.

  • 800 of these participants were put in the control group and underwent regular surgery without the intervention.

How does the intervention work?

The intervention involves an injection of a commonly used local anaesthesia agent, 0.5 percent lidocaine, administered before the patient undergoes the standard surgery.

The injection is administered around the tumour area just before the surgery.

All the patients in the trial group underwent the same standard surgey and post-operative care as the control group after they were given the injection.

What the Study Found

The study participants were followed up for years after their surgeries in order to compare the rate of recovery between those in the trial and those in the control group.

The study found,

  • At the six year mark, the overall survival rate was 89.9 percent in the trial group that received the intervention, and 86.2 percent in the control group.

  • Disease-free survival rate at 6 years was 86.1 percent in the trial group compared to 81.7 percent in the control group.

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Apart from increasing the cure and survival rates in these patients, the study also found that the intervention further reduces the risk of the patient developing disseminated stage 4 metastatic cancer for years after the treatment.
  • The trial group that got the local anaesthesia showed a 26 percent relative reduction in risk of cancer relapse.

  • No toxicity or side effects from lignocaine in patients who received it.

  • Comparison of disease-free survival rate

    (Photo: The Press Information Bureau (PIB))

Why Is This a Landmark Study?

The key advantages of this intervention, according to the study authors, is that the injection requires no additional expertise, is inexpensive, and is easily available.

It is estimated to cost less than Rs 100/- per patient. Compare this to breast cancer treatments with other common targeted drugs which can cost more than ten lakhs per patient.

In a country like India, the ease of logistics, and the low cost of the intervension makes it a potential game changer in breast cancer treatment.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Breast Cancer 

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