Advanced Radiotherapy: Catalyst for Comprehensive Cancer Care in Odisha
Hyderabad: India has been fighting cancer for decades. The country recorded over 14.6 lakh cases in 2022. It is estimated that incidence in men will increase by 60.3% and in women by 54.9% by 2040.
Recently, Odisha, like other states in India, has seen a significant rise in cancer cases. There are 50,000 cancer patients each year. That number has grown by over 1,000 every year from 2020 to 2022.
The state is part of India's mining belt, where workers face elevated levels of environmental carcinogens. Widespread tobacco use also contributes to the spread of cancers. Men commonly experience oral, gastric, and lung cancers, while women frequently face breast, cervix, ovary, gastric, and gall bladder cancers.
The state's healthcare system has been finding it challenging to meet the increasing demand, resulting in extended waiting periods for patients and prompting some to seek treatment in major metropolitan centers. Insufficient comprehensive cancer treatment facilities in district medical colleges worsen the issue. While the private sector has enough facilities, their concentration in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar creates accessibility challenges.
This emphasizes the need for a broader and more accessible healthcare system to effectively address Odisha's growing cancer burden.
The state government recently laid the foundation for the Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital and Research Centre at the NISER Campus in Khurda district to address this need. The 200-bed facility will be up and running by 2025 and the state government is providing Rs 150 crore to procure state-of-the-art equipment. Additionally, the government has also approved a budget of Rs 1,001 crore to set up 11 comprehensive cancer care (CCC) units in the state.
These CCC units, when established, can be interconnected, or networked, creating a collaborative framework that enhances efficiency and optimizes resource utilization. In instances of clinician shortages, these units can seamlessly share capacity for treatment planning, thereby optimizing workflow and ensuring timely care for patients.
The networking between hospitals within this framework not only fosters a collaborative environment but also facilitates the exchange of knowledge and best practices.
Such initiatives are essential to solving the problems faced by patients in Odisha. Furthermore, these facilities can benefit individuals from neighboring states like Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh, who may also need more advanced cancer treatment.
Advanced radiotherapy enabling high-quality care to a larger pool of patients
One key yet often overlooked element in cancer treatment is the integral role of radiation therapy. The WHO states that more than 50% of cancer patients require radiotherapy as part of cancer care.
It is frequently used to treat the most common types, such as breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer. Yet, access to radiotherapy in states like Odisha is inadequate.
Technological advancements have made radiotherapy more precise, which helps protect healthy tissue. It can also shorten treatment sessions, improving patient throughput and enabling cancer centres to handle larger caseloads. In the context of Odisha's rising cancer cases, the adoption of technologies like advanced radiotherapy holds significant potential for enhancing treatment efficacy.
Addressing Odisha’s growing cancer burden requires a collaborative approach. Stakeholders must unite to innovate in early screening, detection, treatment, and increasing accessibility to comprehensive cancer care facilities in the state. Establishing an inclusive ecosystem where advanced technologies and treatment pathways are accessible is essential to effectively manage the escalating cancer challenges in Odisha.