Cut­ting­edge can­cer treat­ment

FrontLine - - INTERVIEW -

A CROWD of pa­tients, mostly from vil­lages in south­ern Tamil Nadu, waited out­side the con­sul­ta­tion room of Dr V. Sathya­narayana, Se­nior Con­sul­tant and Head, De­part­ment of Orthopaedics and Trau­ma­tol­ogy, Meenakshi Mis­sion Hos­pi­tal and Re­search Cen­tre (MMHRC), Madurai. Us­ing mod­els of knees, spine and el­bows, the doc­tor ex­plained to each pa­tient the prob­lem they had. He an­swered their ques­tions pa­tiently. “I can proudly say that I set up the de­part­ment,” he said, re­call­ing how Dr N. Sethu­ra­man, founder, MMHRC, con­vinced him to re­lo­cate from St. John’s Med­i­cal Col­lege and Hos­pi­tal, Ben­galuru. He said: “We are do­ing good. We have a good vol­ume of cases. We are on a par with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards in orthopaedics. Our cen­tre caters to the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion and most of our pa­tients are from vil­lages.”

The de­part­ment has treated var­i­ous kinds of com­pli­cated, trauma cases, spine in­juries and arthri­tis dis­or­ders, be­sides per­form­ing tu­mour surg­eries, joint re­place­ments and or­tho­scopic pro­ce­dures. “We get a lot of spinal in­jury cases. We get back­up from the De­part­ment of Phys­i­cal Medicine and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion,” he said. Road and in­dus­trial ac­ci­dent cases are on the in­crease. Work­ers sus­tain se­vere in­juries when they fall from build­ings un­der con­struc­tion and farmhands suf­fer in­juries when they fall from coconut trees. Dr Sathya­narayana said: “We are geared up for all this. We have a blood bank. We have other spe­cial­ties. Ev­ery­thing is avail­able un­der one roof.”


Dr K.S. Kirushna Ku­mar, Se­nior Con­sul­tant and Head, Ra­di­a­tion On­col­ogy, said that the MMHRC be­gan as a can­cer hos­pi­tal in 1989, when there was no cen­tre in south­ern Tamil Nadu for can­cer treat­ment. “In can­cer treat­ment, there are three spe­cial­i­ties: sur­gi­cal, med­i­cal and ra­di­a­tion. All the three spe­cial­i­ties were started [here] in 1989. Can­cer has to be treated by mul­ti­ple doc­tors be­long­ing to these spe­cial­i­ties,” Dr Kirushna Ku­mar, who is also Head, On­co­log­i­cal Ser­vices and Clin­i­cal Re­search, said. For in­stance, the first and sec­ond stage of oc­cur­rence of a tu­mour in a cheek can be treated by surgery or ra­di­a­tion. In the tu­mour’s third and fourth stage, it can be treated by surgery and ra­di­a­tion. If the pa­tient is not fit, he needs both ra­di­a­tion and chemo­ther­apy.

The MMHRC has two lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tor ma­chines, im­age guided ra­di­a­tion ther­apy (IGRT) and in­ten­sive mod­u­lated ra­di­a­tion ther­apy (IMRT). He said: “Other than these, we have a brachyther­apy ma­chine. Last year we in­stalled a stereo­tac­tic ra­di­a­tion ther­apy and stereo­tac­tic ra­dio surgery for treat­ing brain tu­mours. For treat­ing tu­mours other than those in the brain, we have in­stalled a stereo­tac­tic body ra­dio­ther­apy ma­chine. In Tamil Nadu, only hos­pi­tals in Chen­nai, Coim­bat­ore, and we at Madurai have them.”

The cen­tre spe­cialises in treat­ing breast can­cer/ breast con­ser­va­tion. Nor­mally, the en­tire breast is sur­gi­cally re­moved when breast can­cer oc­curs. “We re­move only the tis­sues. The re­sults are the same,” Dr Kirushna Ku­mar said. The cen­tre also treats pelvic and vul­val can­cers. The MMHRC has a clin­i­cal re­search de­part­ment and much of its re­search is in on­col­ogy.


Dr T. Kasi Viswanathan is the Head of the De­part­ment of Hae­ma­tol­ogy and Bone Mar­row Trans­plan­ta­tion, and Con­sul­tant, Di­vi­sion of Pae­di­atric Hae­mato­on­col­ogy, MMHRC. He told this cor­re­spon­dent: “I would like you to high­light that can­cer in chil­dren is highly cur­able

DR V. SATHYA­NARAYANA, Head, Ra­di­a­tion On­col­ogy. Head, Orthopaedics and Trau­ma­tol­ogy and (right) Dr K.S. Kirushna Ku­mar,

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