Ovarian cancer

Community out reach programs for cancer screening – Interview with Dr. Lakshmi Haridas

‘In the younger age group, the germ cell tumor histology is more prominent. In the middle age group, we  have a mix up of cancer of the ovary, endometrium and cervix”.

Our physician expert is Dr Lakshmi Haridas, a molecular oncologist at the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram in the southern state of Kerala. The Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram (RCC), is an autonomous scientific institution sponsored jointly by the Government of Kerala and the Government of India receiving financial assistance from both.

Can you please describe your clinical expertise and role at the Regional Cancer Center? 

Yes. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my views on  oncology practice to the healthcare system and the common people. I  deal with gynecological and genitourinary cancers – i.e. cancers of the kidney, prostate, urinary bladder, endometrium, ovary, germ cell tumors,

For gynecological cancers, how are patients screened?  

In the hospital clinics, i.e. out-patient department, we are not routinely doing the screening program. But we have in our hospital, a very effective community oncology division, where the dedicated doctors along with their teams, do the screening programs at the outreach areas on a regular basis. They conduct well organized screening camps; perform breast examination (advise mammogram as indicated) and pap smears (to screen for ca cervix). Ultrasound abdomen and pelvis along with CA-125, to detect ca ovary only in symptomatic patients (i.e. patiens with early satiety, abdominal distension, bloating sensation persisting for > 6 months ). In people with post menopausal bleeding, we will refer them to our centre to undergo an endometrial biopsy to pick up carcinoma of the endometrium.

What is the demographic of patients that you treat?  Is there a trend in age groups that you notice for any particular category of gynecological cancers?

I get patients from teenage to the elderly. In the younger age group, the germ cell tumor histology is more prominent. In the middle age group, we  have a mix up of cancer of the ovary, endometrium and cervix. In patients above 60 years, this mix up occurs , but the outcome varies depending on the type of cancer and its specific properties.

What are your thoughts on personalized medicine? 

A very relevant question. Definitely we are going to see a new era of precision or rather personalized medicine in the coming years. They will change the future of oncology care. There are many targeted agents, mostly evidence based, which are coming up for the treatment of ca ovary. Looking forward for more evidence.  

Please share one cancer insight that needs to be addressed to help improve health outcomes?

I wish all the newer advances in the oncology field will be available to every cancer patient in an affordable manner. Only then, all the running trials and evidence generating personnel can meet their ultimate goal, i.e. better cancer – specific survival. Ultimately our aim is to give the best to our patient. And that is why we are in this field.  

Thank you very much, Dr. Lakshmi for taking the time to speak with us. Your insights are greatly appreciated!


Disclaimer: Interviews are published unedited or with minimal changes.

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