India will have close to 13 lakh cases of cancer by 2020, an increase of 14%, as against those in 2015, according to the National Cancer Registry Programme which estimates the incidence of various cancers in the country. The cancer registry has projected cancer cases to be around 11.48 lakh in 2015.
As the number of cancer cases rise, the country will need new cancer facilities and expansion of existing ones, said healthcare experts. India currently has only 232 radiotherapy machines. In radiotherapy, radiation is used to destroy cancer cells.
An analysis by doctors at Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Parel, which is the country’s largest cancer treatment facility, found that given the size of India’s population and cancer cases, the country needs 1,200 radiotherapy machines.
The doctors said cancer treatment facilities are inadequate. “At least two-thirds of cancers in India are preventable. Increasing treatment facilities is vital but increasing accessibility to early diagnosis is the key, which is not available,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi from the department of head and neck cancers, TMC.
“In fact, most medical colleges don’t treat cancer patients and majority of post graduate students do not have adequate knowledge to detect and treat the cases, which only worsens the situation,” he added.
Some added that better diagnosis, advancement in anti-cancer drugs and various surgical options has made cancer treatment like any other chronic disease.
“Patients, who I would have refused to operate 10 years ago, are now being offered surgery. The surgeons are ready to take the risk and patients are also not losing hope. A combination of radiation, chemotherapy and surgery has helped survival of many patients,” said Dr Anil Sanganeria, cancer surgeon at Saifee Hospital, Charni Road.
A city-based hospital administrator said that after cardiac conditions, cancer treatment is the second largest source of revenue. In fact, data of Star Health Insurance shows that cancer-related claims are among the top five claims recorded by the health insurance firm.
Mumbai will soon get more better facilities to diagnose and treat cancer. A 100-bed cancer facility will be inaugurated in July by the Surana Group. “The investment is comparatively high for a cancer facility and the permissions are elaborate but there is a huge gap which needs to be filled to improve accessibility,” said Dr Prince Surana, director, Surana Group
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH), Andheri, has doubled the bed capacity of its day care cancer wing. The hospital has witnessed a 50% rise in chemotherapy-related admissions in the past two years. “Earlier, orthopaedic was the number two in terms of admissions and surgeries, but now, cancer is at par. Now hospitals have dedicated cancer surgeons for each site [type of cancer] which was not common in the past,” said Dr Ram Narian, executive director, KDAH
“In Mumbai, we will continue to offer the services through our existing facilities and evaluate adding more bed capacity for cancer care as the demand grows,” said Ashish Bhatia, COO, Fortis Healthcare.