A paper published in 2014 in the medical journal, The Lancet, estimated the number of cancer patients in India to be slightly more than 1 million every year in a population of 1.2 billion.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer project has predicted India’s cancer burden will nearly double in the next 20 years, from slightly over a million new cases in 2012 to more than 1.7 million by 2035.
But the projected rise in the number of cancer cases in the country has brought to light another worrying factor — the number of specialist doctors to treat such a huge cancer burden is inadequate. There are only 1,600 trained cancer specialists or oncologists in the country, revealed data from the union ministry of health and family welfare.
In what may be considered baby steps to redress the poor doctor-to-patient ratio for oncologists, the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) will conduct the first-ever Summer School in Oncology 2015 in collaboration with King’s College London from May 11 to 22.
Four eminent oncologists from King’s College London and nearly 60 from the TMC will train 50 undergraduate and post-graduate students from the city’s government and municipal medical colleges for free during the 10-day course. “The philosophy behind starting such a programme is to enhance the knowledge, skills and attitude of medical students regarding cancer to better serve the society’s needs,” said Dr KS Sharma, academic dean, TMC.
Of the more than 100 applications that were received for the course, 50 students’ applications were selected based on their statement of purpose.
“We aim to make this an annual practice. From next year onwards, we will invite applications from students all across the country. Each government medical college should have a comprehensive cancer wing to cater to the needs of society,” said Dr Sharma.
Need for course
“The philosophy behind starting such a programme is to enhance the knowledge, skills and attitude of medical students regarding cancer to better serve the society’s needs,” said Dr KS Sharma, academic dean, Tata Memorial Centre.