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India’s Cancer Care Health System in Crisis: Too Many Patients, not Enough Hospitals

India’s cancer care infrastructure is “highly inadequate” and forces a majority of patients to travel “thousands of kilometres” for treatment, says Dr (Prof) Santanu Chaudhary, Nayati Healthcare Mathura

Cancer care in India is rather dismal and inadequate. The gravity of the situation is evident from the 16 lakh newly diagnosed cases and over 8 lakh deaths in the country – a number that reflects the condition of cancer care in the country.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s GLOBOCAN project, India’s cancer burden will rise from an estimated 1.3 million cases in 2018 to about 1.7 million in 2035.

Among these are 140,000 fresh cases of breast cancer, 100,000 cervical cancer cases, and 45,000 cases of oral cancer among women. The top three cancers with the highest incidence in men are those in the oral cavity (1,38,000 cases), cancer of the pharynx (90,000 cases) and those of the gastro-intestinal tract (2,00,000 cases).

The trend is particularly worrying in high-density rural areas as well as certain regions having a grossly large number of cancer patients. For instance, the North-East states in India have a particularly high rate of cancer, whereas in Uttar Pradesh, patients often have to avail sub-par cancer care or move to the cities.

“India’s estimated cancer burden by 2035 is worrisome. There is an urgent requirement of cancer centres in especially under-served parts of the country so that the cancer patients don’t have to travel longer distances, shelling out a major portion of their earnings to receive cancer treatment,” the House Committee, headed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, said in its report.

The silver lining, however, are the mass awareness initiatives by private and government hospitals. The rising number of cancer cases has prompted hospitals to go all-out with their awareness campaigns while providing better services to the patients. The trend is particularly evident in Uttar Pradesh and North-East India.

Pioneering the concept of taking treatment to the patient, Nayati Healthcare launched the most advanced state-of-the-art Cancer Care Centre in Nayati Medicity, Mathura, bringing medical, surgical and radiation technology for end to end treatment for mass market of Tier II and Tier III cities for not only Uttar Pradesh but for the entire North India.

Speaking about the facilities, Chairman of the Centre of Excellence for Oncology at Nayati Medicity, Dr (Prof) Santanu Chaudhary, said, “At Nayati Cancer Center, we have under one roof, the brightest minds in surgical, medical & radiation oncology, along with a complete range of diagnostics, technology, high-end ancillary experts and patient support system. We have adopted the best global practices, including, Hospital Based Cancer Registry, which tracks the magnitude and pattern of patient care and helps us evaluate the outcome of the treatment.”

Nayati Healthcare has been regularly conducting several online and onground programs to create awareness and help in early prevention and diagnosis of Cancer. Some of the noteworthy initiatives include: Cancer Screening Camps at villages for the vulnerable communities, educational Institutions, Senior Citizens Associations, Women’s Clubs and Corporates. The Nayati Cancer Support Group is a platform to engage with patients and their families overcome the battle against cancer and learn from experiences of other patients.

Considering the dire need for more hospitals, the authorities in North East have partnered with private firms and trusts to setup cancer hospitals in India. The most recent example of this move can be picked from the slew of hospitals setup by the Assam government last year, in association with the government and Tata Trusts.

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