Where does In­dia stand in can­cer re­search and treat­ment?

India Today - - CANCER PROJECT -

“There are many hos­pi­tals and lab­o­ra­to­ries in the coun­try that of­fer tar­geted next gen­er­a­tion DNA se­quenc­ing which al­low us to de­ter­mine the spe­cific ge­netic change driv­ing the tu­mour. Thank­fully, these labs of­fer such tests at a frac­tion of the cur­rent western costs. The FISH (flu­o­res­cence in situ hy­bridi­s­a­tion) test that maps the ge­netic ma­te­rial in hu­man cells and MRD (min­i­mal resid­ual dis­ease de­tec­tion) test that finds ev­i­dence of resid­ual ma­lig­nant cells are now be­ing de­vel­oped in many ter­tiary care cen­tres and com­mer­cial labs. The ra­dio­ther­apy de­part­ments in many cen­tres have the best equip­ment avail­able any­where in the world. Stem cell trans­plan­ta­tion for blood can­cer is avail­able in In­dia at Rs 12 to 25 lakh as com­pared with $250,000 for a sim­i­lar trans­plant in the US.

How­ever, can­cer treat­ment is ex­pen­sive and many of our pa­tients can nei­ther af­ford the tests re­quired for per­son­alised medicine nor the new small mol­e­cules which specif­i­cally tar­get the tu­mour cell. A pa­tient with chronic lym­phatic leukaemia with a 17p mu­ta­tion re­quires treat­ment with a BTK in­hibitor, ibru­ti­nib, which costs Rs 24 lakh for one year. Also, the in­fra­struc­ture to treat can­cer is in­ad­e­quate con­sid­er­ing the pop­u­la­tion that needs such treat­ment.”

DR MAMMEN CHANDY, Di­rec­tor, Tata Med­i­cal Cen­tre, Kolkata

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