NEW DELHI: Chemotherapy followed by surgical procedures can triple the life span of gall bladder cancer patients, researchers at Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow have claimed.
Gall bladder cancer is commonly found among women of Indo-Gangetic basin and during their three-year-long study of such patients, the researchers have arrived at the conclusion that if surgery of such patients is preceded by adequate regimens of chemotherapy, their survival rates triple. Rajan Saxena of gastro-surgery department and Sushma Agrawal of radiotherapy department studied the response of patients to upfront chemotherapy followed by surgery, in which cancer had spread to adjacent organs, vessels or lymph glands and cannot be operated upon. They claimed to have found that while survival rate of patients diagnosed with gall bladder cancer hovered around nine months if given chemotherapy alone, those operated upon after chemotherapy easily lived beyond 27 months.
"In order to improve survival we at SGPGI did a feasibility study of upfront therapy followed by evaluation for surgery in locally advanced cases. We found 15 per cent resectability rate in this subgroup and 70 per cent of operated patients are surviving till date (median survival 24 months)," Agrawal told PTI. She said gall bladder cancer is known as highly fatal because usually it is diagnosed at very advanced stages when the disease has already spread.
When asked why is it so difficult to track the disease in early stages, Agrawal said, "There are no symptoms except those of pain in abdomen and acidity sometimes. Patients present with symptoms of gall bladder stones, abdominal pain and acidity." Gall stones are not a definitive causative factor, but long standing gall stones are associated with cancer, she said.
She said it is the third most common form of cancer in the Indo-Gangetic belt among women after breast and cervix cancer. The findings were presented at prestigious ESMO-ASIA (European Society of Medical Oncology-Asian Chapter) held in Singapore and published in Asia Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention.