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Cover Story

For better care

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Prevention is key: Prevention is better than cure, especially in the case of cancer. "Yet only three of the 25 regional cancer centres in India have a preventive cancer department, " says Dr A Nandakumar of the National Cancer Registry Programme. A plea to the government to set up such departments in all hospitals, both public and private, has so far evoked no response. Spread it out: Cancer treatment in India is wrongly confined to a few dedicated centres, says Dr P Jagannath, one of the senior-most hepato-bililary cancer surgeons in the country. The US, for instance, has only two stand-alone cancer centres - MD Anderson and Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Centres. "What we need is to use the public-private partnership module to ensure better access to cancer care. The government should ensure that every 100-bedded hospital in the rural sector and every 300-bedded hospital in urban areas should have a cancer detection and treatment centre. " More than radiation: Cancer treatment in India is unfortunately equated to radiation therapy. Many hospitals needlessly waste crores of rupees buying radiation equipment. "It would be better if a few hospitals came together to share a radiation centre. Four to five centres could share the cost of the Rs 30-crore device, " suggests Dr Jagannath. Tell the docs: Some experts criticise the need for a super-specialty in oncology. All doctors should be taught about cancer detection and surgery. This will help in wider and earlier detection even in remote centres.
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