Gynaecological cancers cover a range of malignancies affecting the female reproductive system, including ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers. In India, the prevalence of these cancers has been on the rise, underlining the significance of understanding their causes, impact, and the strides made in therapeutic approaches. To shed light on the same, we spoke to our expert Dr Mukesh Patekar, Unit Head, Medical Oncology, Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, who explained the types of gynaecological cancer and their treatment procedure.
Ovarian cancer, often referred to as the ‘silent killer’, poses a unique challenge due to its subtle symptoms, leading to late-stage diagnoses. “Cervical cancer, primarily caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections, remains a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Indian women”, said Dr Patekar.
He added, “Endometrial cancer, affecting the lining of the uterus, is prevalent among postmenopausal women. The burden of these cancers is notable, emphasising the need for increased awareness and effective interventions.”
Gynaecological cancers hold relevance in India, where cultural, social, and economic factors can impact healthcare access. According to recent statistics, the incidence of these cancers has been steadily increasing. The majority of women report their cancer at an advanced stage, which has a negative impact on the prognosis and clinical results, as stated in the South Asian Journal of Cancer.
In India, cervical cancer alone accounts for a significant proportion of new cancer cases among women. “Lack of awareness, limited access to screening, and socio-economic disparities contribute to delayed diagnoses and challenges in the effective management of these cancers”, added Dr Patekar.
Types of Gynaecological Cancers
The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague, including bloating, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits. Dr Patekar added, “Recent advancements have centred around PARP inhibitors, a class of drugs that target specific DNA repair mechanisms, showing promise in inhibiting the growth of ovarian cancer cells. Clinical trials have reported notable success, with PARP inhibitors demonstrating improved progression-free survival rates, offering a ray of hope for patients.”
Cervical cancer is closely linked to HPV infections, making prevention through vaccination a critical strategy. According to the Chinese Journal of Cancer Research, cervical cancer is the second most prevalent malignant tumour in women worldwide, which poses a major threat to their health.
“Immunotherapies, such as checkpoint inhibitors, have emerged as game-changers in cervical cancer treatment, showing positive outcomes by boosting the body’s immune response against cancer cells. Ongoing research and clinical trials aim to further refine immunomodulation approaches for better efficacy and reduced side effects”, added Dr Patekar.
Endometrial cancer is often diagnosed in postmenopausal women and is associated with hormonal imbalances. Dr Patekar said, “Personalised hormonal therapies have become a focal point in treatment, tailoring interventions based on the molecular characteristics of the cancer.” These targeted hormonal treatments aim to enhance efficacy while minimising adverse effects, presenting a promising avenue in the management of endometrial cancer.
Therapy For Gynaecological Cancer
“Recent breakthroughs in therapy for gynaecological cancers signify a turning point in treatment paradigms. PARP inhibitors, particularly in ovarian cancer, showcase their efficacy by targeting specific DNA repair mechanisms”, said Dr Patekar. The inhibition of cancer cell growth and improved progression-free survival rates underscore the transformative potential of these agents.
Treatment For Gynaecological Cancer
Dr Patekar said, “Gynaecological cancer treatment has witnessed significant strides, especially in cervical cancer, with the advent of immunotherapies like checkpoint inhibitors.” These therapies, designed to boost the body’s immune response, mark a paradigm shift in cervical cancer treatment approaches, demonstrating encouraging outcomes in clinical trials.
Dr Patekar concluded, “As we navigate the complex landscape of gynaecological cancers, awareness, early detection, and access to advanced therapies become paramount. The recent breakthroughs in therapy and treatment for ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers signify a positive shift in the approach to these challenging conditions.”[Disclaimer: This article contains information provided by an expert and is for informational purposes only. Hence, we advise you to consult your expert if you face any health issues for proper diagnosis and treatment.]