Radiotherapy: Past, Present and its Future in India

In the past decade, radiotherapy has gained popularity as an innovation in cancer management. Radiotherapy is an indispensable factor used in combination with surgical procedures or chemotherapy while coping with cancer. It is deemed to be therapeutic as well as an analgesic for cancer patients. Contemporary cancer care these days has collaborated with multi-dimensional tactics. More than 40% of survivors are cured using radiotherapy alone or combined with chemotherapy/surgery. Radiation therapy for cancer treatment has the power to kill the malignancy from the origin and hence carries more importance than surgeries and chemo sessions alone.

India has an immature cancer population that is budding every year with more than 50% under the age of 25 years. It witnesses approximately 12 lakh new cases per year with around 25 lakh prevailing cases at a mortality rate of 5 lakhs every year. RGCIRC is one of the best cancer hospitals in India, hence it observes more patients registered every year. It is feasible that one should Book an Appointment at RGCIRC before the condition worsens.

The Past:

The Countess of Minto launched the first Radiation Therapy Department at Calcutta Medical College Hospital, India on 25th January 1910. Originally, the cases were cured using X-Rays and Radium and in 1920 X-Rays were used for healing different illnesses including cancer. There is no perfect study that involves the beginning of radiation therapy for cancer treatment. Though some publications verified that back in 1926, treatment was performed using intensive X-Rays and Radium Brachytherapy.

In 1940, India unveiled 4 radiation therapy centers across the country in all four corners namely:

  1. Medical College of Lahore (currently in Pakistan)
  2. Radium Institute in Patna, Bihar
  3. Radium Institute in Agra, Uttar Pradesh
  4. Barnard Institute of Radiology in Madras, Tamil Nadu

Initially, a heavy stock of radium arrived at Ranchi and then transferred to Radium Institute in Patna for medicinal use in 1930. Later, various doctors pursued training in England and then handed it over to different medical colleges in India.

Present Scenario:

In recent years, India has come up with more than 500 teletherapy technologies ( 200 telecobalt units and 300 medical accelerators approx.), 22 improved therapy devices (7 Gamma knife units, 8 Tomotherapy machines, 7 Cyber-knife machines, and 2 intra-operative radiotherapy machines). The newest advancement is the induction of a Proton Therapy Unit in many Cancer Institutes across the country.

Solutions for the coming Future:

  • The Government of India will soon be giving a waiver on custom duty on machinery so that the treatment is easily accessible and affordable to the larger extent of the country.
  • Seeing the raise in the treatment cost in private sector ad corporate hospitals, it has become difficult for certain sections of the society to afford it. Hence, a mutual partnership between Public and Private Hospitals will be proposed.
  • Increase the spread of radiation centers to make them easily accessible to patients living nearby.
  • Extensive training programs for medical students specializing in Cancer and Radiotherapy.

These are some relatable studies that show the past, present, and future of radiotherapy in India. Despite being a highly populated nation, India has been progressing every day in the stream of Cancer and Radiation due to which it has been attracting patients from around the globe every year.

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