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In need of a spa treatment? Head to this hospital in Kochi

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Kochi: In a bid to provide five-star comforts, a multi-speciality hospital in Kochi took it up a notch when it incorporated a full-service spa in it. The 670-bed Aster Medcity hospital has sure turned eyeballs through such initiative.

The hospital has now become the cynosure of all eyes and the spa’s clients include doctors, nurses, patients and their attendants and even walk-ins.

Popular beauty expert Elizabeth Chacko, with around four decades of experience in running a string of beauty clinics in Kochi, was amused when asked if she would be interested in setting up her beauty spa at the state-of-the-art private hospital.

“Somehow, everything fell into place and the management of the Aster Medcity, where I opened my sixth beauty spa, and myself are now pleased that this new concept has clicked,” Chacko, whose brand is Kalpana Family Salon and Spa, told reporters.

“The 2,000 square-foot spa opened in December and by now, I am happy that things are going well,” added Chacko who was educated outside Kerala and plied her beauty trade in Delhi, where she learned the nuances from a senior air force officer’s wife. Since then, there’s been no looking back.

Set on a beautiful 40-acre waterfront campus, Aster Medcity hospital has as its chairman Azad Moopen, a medical professional and founder of Aster DM Healthcare – the fastest growing healthcare group in the Middle East and Africa which is now worth more than $1.1 billion.

One advantage that this hospital has is that it caters to high profile patients, a huge majority are Keralites from the Middle East, besides nationals from there too.

At the spa, everything from facials to manicure, pedicure, hair treatment and what have you, is available to the clients.

“Of course, nurses and doctors do come, as do walk-ins and patients who come for rest and recuperation at the hospital. I give them a 15 percent discount,” said the ‘beauty clinician’, adding that 50 percent of her clients are neither hospital staff nor patients.

“See, I do run five other similar spas in Kochi and hence, I have a regular clientele,” Chacko said.

Trained in the US in electrolysis and cosmetology, Chacko said that even though she has given thousands of faces a glow-up, she is, however, more pleased that she has empowered many young women by giving them training and hands-on experience for a career of their own.

With her only daughter also now helping her in the business and with the new concept of a beauty spa in a hospital that has apparently clicked beyond expectations, she has now got similar offers not just from India but abroad too.(Sanu George, IANS) (picture courtesy: vattikutitechnologies.com)

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Immunotherapy Drugs Show Significant Improvement Against Breast Cancer: Study

Side effects need a close look, both doctors said. Nearly all study participants had typical chemo side effects such as nausea or low blood cell counts.

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Breast Cancer
This undated fluorescence-colored microscope image made available by the National Institutes of Health in September 2016 shows a culture of human breast cancer cells. For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. VOA

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. But the benefit for most women was small, raising questions about whether the treatment is worth its high cost and side effects.

Results were discussed Saturday at a cancer conference in Munich and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have transformed treatment of many types of cancer by removing a chemical brake that keeps the immune system from killing tumor cells. Their discovery recently earned scientists a Nobel Prize. Until now, though, they haven’t proved valuable against breast cancer.

Breast Cancer
Weight loss may lower breast cancer risk for post-menopausal women. Pixabay

In the study

The new study tested one from Roche called Tecentriq plus chemo versus chemo alone in 902 women with advanced triple-negative breast cancer. About 15 percent of cases are this type, their growth is not fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone, or the gene that Herceptin targets, making them hard to treat.

Women in the study who received Tecentriq plus chemo went two months longer on average without their cancer worsening compared with those on chemo alone, a modest benefit. The combo did not significantly improve survival in an early look before long-term follow-up is complete.

Failed protein test

Previous studies found that immunotherapies work best in patients with high levels of a protein that the drugs target, and the plan for the breast cancer study called for analyzing how women fared according to that factor if Tecentriq improved survival overall.

breast cancer
FILE – A patient receives chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at the Antoine-Lacassagne Cancer Center in Nice, July 26, 2012. VOA

The drug failed that test, but researchers still looked at protein-level results and saw encouraging signs. Women with high levels who received the combo treatment lived roughly 25 months on average versus about 15 months for women given chemo alone.

That’s a big difference, but it will take more time to see if there’s a reliable way to predict benefit, said Dr. Jennifer Litton of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She had no role in running the study but enrolled some patients in it and oversees 14 others testing immunotherapies.

“We’re really hopeful that we can identify a group of women who can get a much bigger and longer response,” she said.

Another breast cancer specialist with no role in the study, Dr. Michael Hassett at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said he felt “cautious excitement” that immunotherapy may prove helpful for certain breast cancer patients.

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer cell, Wikimedia Commons

Side effects and cost

Side effects need a close look, both doctors said. Nearly all study participants had typical chemo side effects such as nausea or low blood cell counts, but serious ones were more common with the combo treatment and twice as many women on it stopped treatment for that reason.

Three of the six deaths from side effects in the combo group were blamed on the treatment itself; only one of three such deaths in the chemo group was.

Also Read: New DNA Tool To Predict People’s Height And Risk For Cancer

Cost is another concern. Tecentriq is $12,500 a month. The chemo in this study was Celgene’s Abraxane, which costs about $3,000 per dose plus doctor fees for the IV treatments. Older chemo drugs cost less but require patients to use a steroid to prevent allergic reactions that might interfere with the immunotherapy. Abraxane was chosen because it avoids the need for a steroid, said one study leader, Dr. Sylvia Adams of NYU Langone Health.

The study was sponsored by Roche and many study leaders consult or work for the company or own stock in it. (VOA)