Types of Medicines Used in the Treatment of Cancer in India

Types of Medicines Used in the Treatment of Cancer in India

Cancer is a deadly disease that affects people all over the world. India ranked third in the cancer case, globally and it is estimated that one in nine people are affected by cancer in their lifetime. Among various cancers, lung and breast cancer are common in Indian men and women respectively. There are various cancer medicines used in the treatment of cancer, the type of medicine and treatment is usually based on the type and stage of cancer in the individuals. Today we are going to discuss various cancer medicines which are used in the field of Indian oncology in this article. Continue to read for more information.

Know about Cancer

Cancer is a disease  which is caused by the abnormal growth and spread of the cell in different parts of the body. It can be caused by severe factors like physical, chemical, and biological (genetic) factors.   

Common Types Of Cancer

Cancer can start from any part of the body and spread to different parts of the body. Based on the place of origin, cancer can be categorised into different types. Some of the common types of cancer are given below:

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  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Colon cancer 
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Skin cancer

Different types of strategies for cancer

Based on the type and stage of cancer, the treatment option and the medicine used in the cancer treatment can be changed. Some of the commonly used treatment and the medicine are given below:

1. Surgery

It is the process of removing a cancer cell or tissue from the body by a specialised  doctor (surgeon). Surgery is a good option for solid tumors which are present in a localised area. It is not used for blood cancer or cancer which have spread to different parts of the body (metastasis). Sometimes, your healthcare provider will do a combined treatment along with the surgery.

2. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment in which the medications are used to kill cells in our body. Like other treatments, chemotherapy can be given before (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) or after (adjuvant chemotherapy) the surgery. It not only kills the fast-growing cancer cells, but also kills the healthy cells which leads to severe side effects also (hair loss, mouth sores). 

Some of the medicines which are used in the chemotherapy are Fluorouracil (breast, colorectal, stomach, esophagus, and pancreatic cancers), Paclitaxel (breast cancer, ovarian cancer, non-small cell lung cancer),  Carboplatin (lung and ovarian cancer).

3. Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a special type of treatment which involves the medication to boost the immune response of the individuals against the cancer cells. Several types of immunotherapy are used to treat the cancer such as Immune checkpoint inhibitors, T-cell transfer therapy, Monoclonal antibodies, Immune system modulators. This can also be used as a combination therapy for effectively treating the cancer cells.

Some of the immunotherapy medicines which are used to treat cancer are Nivolumumab, Pembrolizumab, Durvalumab and Atezolizumab.

4. Targeted Therapy

It is a type of cancer treatment that involves medications (target proteins) which control the growth, division and spread of the cancer cells. Most of the target therapy used in cancer treatment are either small-molecule medications or monoclonal antibodies. These types of medicines specifically target the cancer cells and reduce the damage of the healthy cells. Medications used in target therapy are Tagrisso 80mg tablet contains Osimertinib (non-small cell lung cancer), Trastuzumab (breast and stomach cancer).

5. Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is a type of cancer treatment that stops or reduces the growth of cancer which uses hormones to grow. It is also known as endocrine therapy. This type of treatment is used to treat hormone sensitive cancer such as breast or prostate cancer.

Some of the medicines used in hormone therapy are tamoxifen citrate (anti-estrogen medication for breast cancer).

6. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy involves high doses of radiation to kill or shrink the cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy used in cancer treatment, such as external and internal beam radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is often used in combination with other treatments. 

Always remember that your doctor will give you an appropriate treatment based on the type and stage of the cancer. So, it is advised to engage with a doctor to get effective treatment plans.

Role of Supportive Medications

Supportive medication are also known as supportive care medications which helps to manage the side effects of the treatment and symptoms of cancer. This medication will help to improve the quality of patients’ life and to reduce discomforts caused by cancer treatments. It should be fully integrated with diagnosis and treatment. Dexamethasone is a medication given to patients to overcome anaemia during the treatment. Denosumab is used to treat low bone density (osteoporosis) in treatment.

Role of Palliative Care Medications

Palliative care is a part of supportive care  which involves holistic care of the patient.

It helps to manage the pain and other symptoms by giving psychological, social and spiritual support to the patient and their families. It consists of a special team which include palliative medicine consultants, nurse, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, pharmacists, social workers and those able to give spiritual and psychological support.

Advancements in cancer treatment in India

  1. m-RNA vaccine for Cancer: Researchers are working on mRNA-based vaccines that help to boost immune response against cancer cells. This helps to treat cancers or prevent cancers of the lung, pancreas, skin, nerve cells, head, neck and prostate.

2.CAR-T therapies: Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell therapy or CAR-T cell therapy  is an advanced therapy which was developed in India. In this therapy the T-cells of the patients are received and re-engineered in the laboratory to produce a special protein  (chimeric antigen receptors, or CARs). These proteins are helpful in identifying the cancer cells and effectively treating the cancer in the individuals.

  1. Government HPV vaccination programme: The head of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) has recently announced that India would soon immunize girls aged 9-14 from human papillomavirus (HPV) under a national vaccination program. This program helps in preventing and providing immunization for our girls against HPV and cervical cancer.


Even though cancer is a deadly disease, it cannot cause death to everyone. Following a proper treatment plan and precision medicines can help you to overcome the cancer. We can break the stigma of cancer by the advancements in cancer treatment. It is recommended to get a proper treatment plan along with the supportive care to treat the cancer in an effective way. Let’s unite together and fight against cancer!

About the author: mrmed

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