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Lidocaine Jab And Breast Cancer: A Cheap Local Anaesthesia That Works Against Cancer Cells

During the trials, the intervention group received an injection of 0.5 percent of lidocaine, all around the tumour, just prior to surgery

A clinical trial presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology Congress in Paris showed that using Licodaine before surgery can improve survival rates of breast cancer patients

Written by Kashish Sharma |Updated : September 14, 2022 5:59 PM IST

Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) in a multi-centric study has shown that Lidocaine, an inexpensive local anaesthesia, that costs just a little more than a hundred rupees, possesses potent anti-cancer properties. The study claims that injecting the numbing drug at the cancer spot right before surgery can drastically improve the survival chances of people suffering from breast cancer.

The case can be a good example of drug repositioning where old drugs are recognized for new uses, resulting in low-cost and low-risk new drug development.

About the study

The study, 'Effect of Peri-tumoral Infiltration of Local Anaesthetic Prior to Surgery on Survival in Early Breast Cancer' is a randomised controlled trial, conceived and designed by Dr Badwe. Clinical trials were conducted by researchers at 11 cancer centres across India. In these trials, the local anaesthesia Lidocaine was injected around the breast tumour minutes before surgery. The trial involved 1,600 breast cancer patients in three stages of the disease.

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Preventing cancer cells' communication

As per experts, injecting the drug into the tumour spot resulted in cancer cells not being able to communicate with each other. Researchers also observed that the drug was reducing the chance of metastasis (spreading of cancer to different parts of the body) during the surgery. As per reports, Dr Rajendra Badwe, Director of Tata Memorial Centre said that the study is the first of its kind that has shown how pre-operative interventions can be used to manipulate the cancer environment in a way that it doesn't react adversely to the surgery performed.

0.5 per cent of Lidocaine is enough

During the trials, the intervention group received an injection of 0.5 percent of lidocaine, all around the tumour, just prior to surgery. They then underwent standard surgery. A previous study had shown that there is an opportunity just prior to, during, and immediately after the surgical removal of the primary cancer when anti-cancer interventions could reduce the risk of the development of metastatic stage where the cancer starts spreading to other locations in the body.

Lidocaine and its multifaceted function

As per the article Repositioning Lidocaine as an Anti-cancer Drug: The Role Beyond Anaesthesia, published in the Frontiers, the anaesthesia drug Lidocaine has multifunctional effects in anti-inflammation, analgesia, anti- arrhythmia, and as an anti-bacterial drug. Growing evidence has shown that the drug can provide benefits in the treatment of cancer by inhibiting proliferation and migration of

cancer cells. Studies have also shown that this anaesthesia is also seen sensitising various chemotherapeutics to many types of resistant cancer cells.

An inexpensive option

As per the researchers involved in the study, this is an inexpensive option and can be used by any surgeon who treats the disease. The study has shown high level of evidence that the technique can be used by onco- surgeons across the country and even globally.

Last word

In times when cancer treatment is faced with struggles like multi-drug resistance, low responsive rate among patients and skyrocketing financial pressure, a not more than hundred rupees anaesthesia can bring a new dawn to 1,00,000 lives annually, globally.

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