Cuttingedge cancer treatment
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.”
GENESIS AS A CANCER HOSPITAL
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,