Cancer kills 8.2 million people around the world each year. A staggering half a million of these deaths happen in India alone.1
The second most populated country in the world, India is currently seeing a wide disparity between patients and access to appropriate care. Many of India’s cancer deaths could be prevented, if only diagnoses didn’t occur so late: 70 to 80% of India’s cancer cases are diagnosed too late, and this is mainly down to a lack of facilities.2
In the South Indian region of Tamil Nadu, deaths from cancer are the seventh highest in the whole country.
Cancer arises when cells in the body begin to divide erratically. Tumors can occur anywhere in the body and there are several different types of tumor. This means that a wide array of equipment, resources and expertise are needed to give patients the most accurate diagnosis possible.
Until now, patients in Madurai and the 13 southern districts of Tamil Nadu have had to travel as far as Chennai or Coimbatore to find the care they need, at great cost. A study done by one of India’s premier medical institutes showed that patients undergoing radiation therapy spend only 41% of their total cost on medical expenses with the rest, 59%, going on transportation and lodging.3
A new, one-stop cancer treatment facility opened in Madurai on March 26th will bring all elements of cancer care under one roof, and save patients hundreds of miles in trips to other cities.
“We are proud to be associated with Vadamalayan Hospital and bring access to world-class cancer care to the people of South Tamil Nadu,” said Milan Rao, President and CEO, GE Healthcare, South Asia and India.
“At GE we have moved from being a medical equipment provider to a complete solutions provider. We are partnering with Indian healthcare providers to standardize protocols and develop complete cancer care, thereby elevating standard of care.”
PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography) works by combining two different imaging techniques to obtain a 2D or 3D image of a patient’s internal anatomy and metabolism. Doctors can get a clear view of tumors and how active they are.
Not only does this give healthcare providers the ability to spot smaller lesions than they would using any other technique, but also the ability to accurately determine whether a patient is responding to current treatment.
Unlike care models more typical to western countries, the center in Vadamalayan Hospital operates with an out-patient department model. This means that patients can be seen without necessarily needing to be formally hospitalized, giving the center the flexibility it needs to operate in an area like Tamil Nadu where the ability to quickly come and go is important to many.
The center also includes a chemotherapy facility, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and a SPECT gamma camera, and a linear accelerator, used to deliver specialized radiation therapy, especially in cervical and prostate cancer.
“There are a significantly high number of people with Cancer in India who report for treatment at a very late stage. We also know that cancer patients don’t always respond to their initial course of treatment,” said Dr D. David Praveen Kumar, MD, DM, a leading Medical Oncologist at Vadamalayan Hospital. “It is thus critical that clinicians are armed with the latest and most advanced medical technologies to accurately determine whether or not a patient is responding to treatment. Imaging technologies like PET/CT helps reveals both anatomical and physiological features thus helping doctors understand the condition better, take more informed decisions and deliver better patient care.”
The center will revolutionize the way cancer care is delivered to people of Madurai and South Tamil Nadu districts, bringing world-class treatment closer to them and making the overall cost of their treatment affordable. The sooner patients can be diagnosed and treated, the better chance we will have at defeating the disease.