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Advancing Women’s Agency Podcast EP 3: COVID-19 & Its Implications on Breast Cancer in India

On May 28, Aaroogya International and Silicon Valley Global Health released the third podcast episode on the topic “Advancing Women’s Agency: COVID-19 & Its Implications on Breast Cancer in India,” hosted by Martine Bolsens Peetermans, CEO of Silicon Valley Global Health. The speakers were Dr. PK Julka, a former Padma Shri awardee, and the Principal Director at Max Oncology Daycare Centre in New Delhi, India, and Dr. Priyanjali Datta, a former ‘Top 50 Global Healthcare Leaders’ recipient and co-founder of Aaroogya International.

New discoveries in multiomics and precision medicine are developing in the field of oncology, Dr. Julka discusses. In the future, doctors will be able to treat cancers with treatments specific to each unique patient. Because for every gene mutation there is a separate drug, Dr. Julka expresses that future treatments for cancer will employ precision medicines, tailored specifically to a patient’s unique genetic and clinical makeup. Immunotherapies are also on the horizon to help treat the particularly aggressive triple negative breast cancer. In this field, antibody conjugates are being developed to boost naturally occurring immune system cells.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Aaroogya has been given the dual challenge of providing more education and screening for preventative cancer screening, while simultaneously dealing with the new and critical health care needs in India related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Aaroogya's adapted model, Dr. Datta relates, patients are only screened for cancer after being cleared for COVID-19, allowing for ASHA workers to safely do their job while conducting as many preventative scans as possible. Dr. Datta also suggests expansion of the digital healthcare system to help boost tele-consultations for low-risk patients.

“Cancer cells do not sleep,” Dr. Julka thus warns; and as COVID-19 rages on, Dr. Datta recalls a mentor’s words: “cancer is not on a holiday.” Indeed, the field of oncology is progressing relentlessly, offering a multitude of new ways to treat numerous fatal diseases, but the COVID-19 pandemic has offered difficulties not only in its own right, but for cancer screening all over the world. However, solutions are being collaboratively forged to subside both the pressing concerns of our current context, and the broader theoretical barriers posed in the science of oncology.

View the episode for more information at the link below:

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