July 4, 2019 0 By FM

Certain rare diseases, as well as cancers, are areas that the medical and scientific world has still not understood completely. We need more knowledge on them to decide on more specific treatments. And in the absence of this, many cases are left untreated and many deaths occur today because of these diseases.

So, we physicians, when approaching such cases, should show some patience to understand the disease a little deeper before making our conclusions on a particular therapy or medicine. For instance, cancer is a broad term and there are several types and sub-types and many variations even within similar cases. There are experiments with different drugs and therapies that are still being carried out to find the right or better way to address this. But, because there are standard treatment options in practice, the general tendency is to prescribe them instantly.

Unless one observes symptoms clearly and does the investigation properly and analyses them with attention to minute details, prescribing a routinely followed therapy will be only a compromise. Whether it is radiotherapy, chemotherapy or immunotherapy, these are not specific options. By jumping onto your conclusions without understanding the disease well, you are often risking your patients’ life and not doing justice to your profession.

Fortunately, we have in today’s world many technologies, including genetic testing and many other new-generation diagnostics, to help take an informed decision.

Certainly, there are many clinicians who try out different therapies based on their experience and updated skillsets to make it more specific, though they can’t carry out any drastically different experiment compared to standard protocols as it may trigger ethical issues. But one thing is sure, we have to earn more knowledge about these diseases before jumping to therapies that are often nonspecific. And this realisation should come from within.

­— As told to CH Unnikrishnan