In a first of its multi-centric study, the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) has shown that an injection of 0.5% Lidocaine — a commonly used local anaesthesia — can significantly increase cure rates and chances of survival among patients. The clinical trial was conducted in 11 centres across India among 1,600 women suffering from early stage of breast cancer.
The clinical trial that was presented at the ongoing European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Paris showed that the injection that costs Rs 100 can end up saving up to 100,000 lives annually globally. For comparison, benefits of far lesser magnitude have been achieved in early breast cancer patients by much more expensive, targeted drugs which cost over Rs 10 lakh per patient.
Speaking from Paris right after his presentation, Dr Rajendra Badwe, Director Tata Memorial Centre, said, “This is the first study of its kind globally that has shown a sizable benefit by single intervention prior to surgery. For scientists, it opens the window of peri-operative intervention to modulate the environment of cancer in such a way so as to prevent its deleterious reaction to the act of surgery.”
He added: “Before the surgery, patients are injected with the drug and then we wait for 10-15 minutes before operating on them,” said Dr Badwe, who is the principal investigator of the study titled ‘Effect of Peri-tumoral Infiltration of Local Anaesthetic Prior to Surgery on Survival in Early Breast Cancer’.
After the completion of treatment, the patients were followed up regularly for several years to compare the rates of cure and survival between the control group and local anaesthesia group. The data was analysed in September 2021. “As expected, there was no toxicity of lignocaine in patients who received it. The 6-year disease-free survival (cure rate) was 81.7% in the control group and 86.1% in the local anaesthesia group for a 26% relative reduction in the risk of cancer relapse or death with the local anaesthesia injection, which was statistically significant. Similarly, the 6-year overall survival was 86.2% versus 89.9% in the two groups for a 29% reduction in the risk of death with the local anaesthetic injection, which was also statistically significant,” read a statement of the hospital.
After witnessing the success of the clinical trial, TMC plans to make it a standard procedure for treatment of patients who meet the criteria.