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cover ) 26

cover ) 26 February 2018 EXPRESS HEALTHCARE

( FOCUS:CANCER CARE I N T E R V I E W Bringing cost efficiency in cancer treatment is the need of the hour In a wide-ranging interview, Dr Sajjan Rajpurohit, Senior Medical Oncologist, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC) talks about the cancer scenario in India to Prathiba Raju. Explains that late detection, lack of awareness and affordable care are the main reasons for the high cancer mortality rates in the country Cancer has taken centre stage and is in an upsurge, with more and more people being detected with the disease, still we don't have enough oncologists. Why do you think there is a dearth of specialists in oncology? The value of detecting cancer early is significant. Although the situation has improved in recent years, India still has one of the worst records for both identification of cancer and survival from it. Late detection, lack of awareness and affordable care are the main reasons for the high cancer mortality rates in the country. However, awareness on cancer has improved from what it was ten years ago, but still much more needs to be done. The number of cancer cases are burgeoning due to increased urbanisation, air and water pollution and change in lifestyle, like increased use of tobacco, preservatives and processed food, use of alcohol, tobacco, obesity, etc. As per a report by EY, the prevalence of cancer in India is expected to increase from an estimated 3.9 million in 2015 to an estimated 7.1 million people by 2020. There is a significant dearth of well-trained oncologists across the three streams – medical, surgical and radiation oncology. India has Apart from other non-communicable diseases, cancer treatments should be given an impetus and more generous funding by the central and the state governments only about 1500 medical oncologists and we would require atleast 10,000. Atleast one medical oncologist is needed for 100,000 people and we have a huge gap. Many medical oncologists are present only in the urban areas or tier I cities. In tier II and tier III cities, it is difficult to get a medical oncologist and we don’t have enough surgical and radiation oncologists. Cancer being a chronic disease, there is an urgent need for increased oncologists’ presence in tier II and tier III cities. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, apart from Lucknow, almost all other districts lack optimal oncology facility, even AIIMS in Jodhpur does not have medical oncologists. Government needs to lay huge focus on delivering the oncology facility atleast in tier II and tier III cities. Can you tell us how the oncosurgery has developed in the recent years and what are the innovations which can be expected in the next five years? As setting up a cancer hospital is capital-intensive, we have only about 10 to12 cancer centres of excellence pan India which provide gamut of quality cancer treatment matching the world class cancer centres. EXPRESS HEALTHCARE 27 February 2018

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