New hope for cancer patients

[ Junroi Mamai ]

As per the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) population-based cancer registry’s 2011-14 data, Arunachal Pradesh has registered about 2,500 cancer cases, with Papum Pare district having reported a total of 802 cancer incidence cases, closely followed by East Siang (326), and West Siang (307).
The Tertiary Cancer Centre (TCC) under the Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS), Naharlagun, which was established in April 2017, has been providing cancer treatment to about 450 patients. Dr Syam Tsering, who is the nodal officer of the centre’s radiation and oncology department, informed that the state government is providing free chemotherapy medicines worth Rs 10 lakhs per annum per patient under the Chief Minister’s Free Cancer Chemotherapy Scheme.
The scheme is available for APST patients only, but the state government plans to extend it to also cover non-APST patients working under the state government.
Dr Tsering informed that most cancer cases reported in the state belong to people in the age group of 40 to 50 years. However, a number of cases have also been found in young adults between the ages of 30 and 40 years. In men, cases of stomach, liver, and oesophagus lung cancer are prevalent, while females commonly suffer from cancer of the stomach, breasts, cervix, and ovary.
“Sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet and obesity can be blamed for the increase in cancer cases,” informed Dr Tsering, adding that there may be more cancer cases in the state than have been reported in the data as some cases remain undetected due to under-reporting.
Under the ICMR’s population-based cancer registry scheme, any new patient in the state will be registered in the state’s cancer-based registry. The state currently has two cancer-based registries, one at the TRIHMS, and the other in Pasighat to cater to the patients residing in the eastern part of the state.
According to the 2011-14 data, about 350 cancer cases have been registered at the cancer registry centre in Pasighat. The number could be more as people in the eastern part of the state mostly avail treatment in Assam and hence could not be covered in the data.
Providing an update on the facilities available at the TCC, Dr Tsering said all three modalities of cancer treatment – chemotherapy, radiation and oncology – are available at the centre. He, however, said though there are about six junior specialist doctors to attend to the patients, the cancer centre is in need of more manpower. He also said that the facilities at the centre are likely to improve as soon as some pending projects, which include installation of new facility like PET CT scan, is made available and more manpower provided.
Moreover, with the Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, having signed a memorandum of understanding with the State Cancer Society of Arunachal Pradesh, medicines are being procured at very concessional rates for the state’s cancer patients.
“With a Rs 3 crore fund allocated last year against the state, over 450 cancer patients benefited from it,” informed Dr Tsering.