In its vision to make globally available high-cost medicines accessible to the Indian masses at affordable prices, BDR Pharma has always been a key player. Its latest breakthrough has come with the introduction of Cabozanib molecule named Cabozantinib, a new TKI inhibitor, which has finally been green-lit in the country for cancer treatment. For the uninitiated, Cabozanib is an oral drug, consumed in the form of tablets, which has vastly helped in the efficacy of treatment for Medullary Thyroid Cancer, Renal Cell Carcinoma and Hepatocellular Carcinoma in particular.
In a highly interactive and educational panel discussion hosted by BDR Pharma and ETHealthworld.com, leading professionals from the healthcare industry have listed out the key benefits of Cabozanib, how it helps fight the different types of cancer and why it is a better substitute to the existing immunotherapy drugs. The panelists—Dr. Rajat Saha, Senior Consultant Medical Oncology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi and Dr. K. Pavithran, Clinical Professor and Head Department: Medical Oncology, Amrita Hospitals, Kochi exchange keynotes regarding the advanced drug and its efficacies in cancer treatment. Speaking to moderator Kanishk Gaur, Founder, India Future Foundation, they have also explained the risk factors to the three types of cancers, what the treatment process for each entails (with respect to the introduction of Cabozanib) and how to adopt lifestyles that can prevent from the disease.
Medullary Thyroid Cancer in India
Thyroid cancers, which rank 18th or 19th in the list of prevalence and incidence of cancers in India, are usually uncommon amidst the general population, with Medullary Thyroid Cancer constituting about 5% of all the different thyroid cancers. Usually, most of the cases are caused due to genetics, while others are sporadic. Even within the sporadic cases, about 50% of them are due to genetic mutations.
“For the purpose of diagnosis and treatment, we need people to undergo genetic testing. This happens in two parts, one to see if the disease is hereditary, and second to figure out how to go about treatment,” says Dr. Pavithran.
Using Cabozanib to Treat Medullary Thyroid Cancer
The treatment process for this type of cancer depends on the stage of the disease and the physical fitness of the patient. In the early stages, surgery is a curative option. For later-stage patients, treatment usually comes in the form of radiotherapy and systemic therapy. In the second case, the treatment is meted out through the usage of advanced drugs, which thanks to BDR Pharma’s initiative, is expected to make positive breakthroughs.
The Cabozanib drug comes in the form of tablets that are to be taken orally. A patient would generally have to intake about 140 milligrams a day, but the dosage can be changed according to the response of the patient. Naturally, the pills would have to be taken for a long time. “The drug has been tested efficiently in mass Phase-3 trials and has indicated an overall promising survival rate when consumed by patients,” says Dr. Saha.
Renal Cell Carcinoma
Kidney cancers rank about 20th on the list of all types of cancers according to incidence and prevalence, in India. Its key causes are smoking, genetic syndromes, and long-standing uncontrolled hypertension.
Using Cabozanib to Treat Renal Cell Carcinoma
A large number of studies and phase-3 trials have proven that Cabozanib is more effective in the treatment of Renal Cell Carcinoma than Sunitinib, the standard gold starred-treatment drug for kidney cancers. Cabozanib has also shown improvement in efficacy in the second line of treatment.
Alcoholism, hepatitis, obesity, fibrosis and cirrhosis are some of the many risk factors that contribute to the development of liver cancers. Various genetic diseases can also contribute to this disease. “Blood tests, CT scans, Ultrasounds (every six months) are some of the ways to detect this kind of cancer,” says Dr. Pavithran.
Using Cabozanib to Treat Hepatocellular Carcinoma
At a later stage of the disease, a procedure called TACE and TARE is put into effect: where chemotherapy and radiotherapy drugs are injected into the patient through their arteries to fight the tumor. A third modality is the liver transplant—whereby the liver cancer and the underlying liver disorder can both be cured. For treatment, immunotherapy classes of drugs and drugs like Cabozanib can be used in preventing widespread stage-4 liver cancer.
Liver transplants are useful in cases of patients with cirrhosis or where the tumor size is small. Lifestyle changes—such as avoiding alcohol, smoking, ensuring weight control, a good diet—have to be taken into account here for patients who are undergoing liver transplants.
Key Benefits of Using Cabozanib
The existing immunotherapy drugs (which are imported from the U.S. and Europe) are very expensive. With Cabozanib being placed at an affordable price, the medical treatment being meted out to patients stands to get broader.
Both with and without the combination of immunotherapy drugs, the use of Cabozanib has showcased very promising results in cancer treatment.
· Long-Term Treatment
Cabozanib is a powerful drug that provides a long-duration of treatment response for patients.
Side Effects of Cabozanib
While Cabozanib does entail certain side effects, most of these are manageable. These are:
· Hand-Foot Syndrome (skin changes)
Duration of Usage (in RCC Treatment)
A patient is usually prescribed Cabozanib for a continuous stretch of 10 to 11 months before the patient progresses. Follow-up screenings and check-ups comprising of CT scans and pet CT scans every three or four months are mandatory. If the patient is taking well to the drug, then the usage is continued.
Home-Treatment Using Cabozanib
· The drug needs to be taken on an empty stomach & not to eat 2 hrs before & 1 hrs after taking the medicine.
· Patients also need to keep monitoring their blood pressure for hypertension and their hands and feet for skin changes. If they note changes in either, then they are to take medical help for the same.
How to Detect Cancer Early
Diagnosing cancer at its earliest stages often provides the best chance for a cure. With this in mind, a physician can decide what types of cancer screening may be appropriate for such patients. Screening tests like Mammography, Colonoscopy & Pap smear test can save lives by diagnosing cancer early. For other cancers, screening tests are recommended only for people with increased risk.