Affordable cancer treatment gets impetus in India with inauguration of 2 radiotherapy units


The All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Odisha got three state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment for diagnosis of cancer and other diseases including heart problem, thyroid, kidney and liver problems. Besides, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute in Kolkata have got an upgradation with new age radiotherapy machines, targeted chemotherapy, nuclear medicine. Both will help in making cancer more affordable to the common man.

Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradha inaugurated department of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine along with three state-of-the-art high yield radiotherapy equipment at All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar recently, Odisha News Insight reported.

The Minister also inaugurated Gamma Camera to detect cancer. The aim of the unit is to make cancer treatment affordable for the patients.

The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute in Kolkata has been relocated at Nayabad. The new building was inaugurated. The hospital will have double the capacity and would become fully functional on March 31.

“Built on one acre land given by the West Bengal government we will be able to cater to a larger number of patients as our old unit had only 70 beds,” said Dr Ashis Mukhopadhyay, medical director at the Institute was quoted by the Times of India newspaper as saying.

With new age radiotherapy machines, targeted chemotherapy, nuclear medicine, modern surgeries including hipaque, the hospital promises to give services to patients at half the cost of private hospitals.

According to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), nuclear medicine techniques make use of radiation emitted by radioisotopes. Detecting these emissions and transforming them into images is the basis of nuclear medicine techniques. Scientists have identified a number of chemicals that are absorbed by specific organs. With this knowledge, several radiopharmaceuticals have been developed. These are compounds that are tagged with radioisotopes for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes which are injected into the patient’s body. Once a radiopharmaceutical enters the body, it is incorporated into natural biological processes and excreted normally. There are up to 200 radioisotopes routinely used as tracers in biological substances. The non-invasive nature of this technology, together with the ability to observe an organ functioning from outside the body, makes this technique a powerful diagnostic tool.

Radiopharmaceuticals injected into a patient produce a signal which can be seen using a gamma camera – a device that detects gamma radiation. Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) uses a rotating gamma camera to obtain images from multiple angles of the organ being studied. For example, images of the heart taken with a SPECT gamma camera record how much blood is flowing into all parts of the heart muscle. These images help doctors to determine the severity of the heart disease. For low-risk patients, SPECT can avoid unnecessary referrals for very expensive procedures, such as cardiac catheterization or coronary angiography, by filtering out patients who don’t need these procedures.

Similarly, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a precise and sophisticated imaging technique using radioisotopes. PET makes it possible to show both organ function and the development of the disease within it. Simple sugars, glucose, for example, can be labelled with signal emitting radioisotopes and injected into the patient. The PET scanner records the signals that these radioisotopes emit as they collect in organs targeted for examination. A computer then translates the signals into images.