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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the state’s first Centre for High-Precision Radiation Therapy for cancer patients at the 1,300-bed Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (Amrita Hospital) on March 11, 2017. The facility, equipped with the latest, high-output models of CyberKnife (M6 version) and Tomotherapy, will offer quick and painless treatment of cancerous tumors with very high precision of radiation delivery. This development comes as a huge relief to cancer patients from Kerala who till now had to travel to other parts of India or even abroad at a great cost for high-end cancer treatment, as this capability did not exist in the state.
Addressing the audience, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences is among the best hospitals in India. Its new Centre for High-Precision Radiation Therapy will be of tremendous benefit to the people. The Government recognizes the need for quality healthcare, and appreciates the important role that non-Government hospitals are playing in the state. This is for the first time that such a facility for non-invasive treatment of cancer is established in Kerala, even though it has been available in other parts of the country for many years. It is a much-needed addition to Kerala’s healthcare system, more so because the incidence of cancer in the state has been going up steadily.”
Dr. Debnarayan Dutta, Head, Radiation Oncology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, who is among the first CyberKnife specialists in India, said, “This is Kerala’s first centre for high-precision radiotherapy equipped with state-of-the-art CyberKnife and Tomotherapy systems for highly effective and efficient radiation delivery. These two technologies represent a paradigm shift in cancer care. They offer out-patient, short duration treatment with minimal side effects. At Amrita Hospital, we are offering these world-class radiosurgery facilities with fully robotic radiation delivery system at almost one-fourth the prevailing treatment cost, with no waiting time for patients.”
CyberKnife is used for treating small-size cancerous tumours like brain tumours, moving targets (tumours which move during treatment) such as lung, liver and prostate cancer, and metastatic diseases. The treatment, which is completely painless with minimal toxicity, lasts only a few minutes, and patients can go home immediately. CyberKnife is the only radiation therapy system in the world to track tumour movement in real time, allowing sub-millimeter accuracy in treatment delivery. Tomotherapy delivers radiation doses very precisely to irregular tumours and larger-size tumours. These modern radiosurgery systems deliver precise dose of radiation to cancerous cells while sparing healthy tissue, unlike traditional radiation treatment.
Such advanced care for patients was urgently needed in Kerala because of the rising incidence of cancer, currently hovering around the figure of 160 in males and 153 in females per 100,000 population annually. Dr. Debnarayan Dutta added, “The incidence of cancer found in Kerala is similar to Western countries, unlike other parts of India. For example, while cervical cancer is the most common cancer found in Indian women, in Kerala breast cancer is the most common. The incidence of prostate cancer, liver cancer, and colon cancer is also higher in the state, while the incidence of head and neck cancer is less. This unique type of cancer incidence in Kerala poses a challenge in treatment and needs high-end facilities like CyberKnife and Tomotherapy.”
At Amrita Hospital, this high-precision radiation therapy treatment is being made available at almost one-fourth the prevailing cost, bringing it within the reach of the common man. Patients not only from Kerala, but also from other states in India, the Middle East, as well as the SAARC and Central African countries are expected to avail of these facilities, thus reversing the flow of patients looking for high-end treatment with CyberKnife and Tomotherapy.
Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister, Kerala; Dr. Sanjeev K. Singh, Medical Superintendent, Amrita Hospital; Dr. Prathapan Nair, Principal, School of Medicine, Kochi; Swami Purnamritananda Puri, General Secretary, Mata Amritanandamayi Math; Shri. P. Rajeev, Ex-member of Parliament, Ernakulam; Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director, Amrita Hospital; Smt. Ambika Sudarsan, Member, Kochi Municipal Corporation; and Dr. K. Pavithran, Head, Medical Oncology were present at the event.
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