Cancer care in India is headed in the right direction with improving outcomes, survival rates and availability of advanced technologies and onco-care specialists, experts said.
However, they said, the pace needs to pick up with innovative strategies to remove the disparities in availability of treatment of cancer care across the country. The experts said this at a seminar, “Shaping the future of Cancer Care in India”, organized by Sahyadri hospitals here.
The seminar was organized to mark the launch of an advanced onco-radiation centre at Sahyadri Super Specialty Hospital in Hadapsar.
Senior medical oncologist S H Advani, director (medical oncology) Jaslok hospital, said, “With landmark advances in medical oncology, the survival rates are increasing. People in the cities are coming at early stages of the disease.”
He added, “With targeted therapies, immunotherapies and newer treatments, we have moved from group to personalized treatment. But what remains as a challenge is education, finances and disparity between the cities and rural areas in the availability of healthcare.”
Citing the example of National Cancer Grid, senior cancer expert and Tata Memorial Hospital director C S Pramesh said, “Equalization of quality of care is what is needed to improve the outcomes. We need uniform standards of cancer care throughout the country. Public awareness and education are crucial to make a stage shift of current advanced stage of presentation to early stage of presentation to reduce the rate of mortality.”
Senior cancer expert and former director of Tata Memorial hospital A.K D’Cruz said, “Head and neck cancer is the number one cancer in our country primarily because of consumption of tobacco. Most patients come to us at an advanced stage. But this is a paradox because this cancer has a well defined tumour progression model and goes through various stages before one gets full blown cancer.”
Sahyadri Hospitals chairman and neurosurgeon Charudutt Apte said, “Our mission is that we want to make specialty healthcare available accessible, accountable and affordable. We are one of the few groups that have volunteered and partnered with the government in their endeavour to make tertiary care available to the poor.” – Times of India