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Two bone cancer patients 1st to get proton therapy

  • Two bone cancer patients 1st to get proton therapy

    Posted By : Malathy Iyer

    MUMBAI: Three months after the prime minister virtually inaugurated the proton beam therapy centre at Tata Memorial Centre's Kharghar branch, two bone cancer patients became the first to receive the radiation on August 15.

    Proton Therapy

    The TMC, which is the first public hospital in the country to offer the state-of-the-art therapy, plans to provide the treatment free to 60% of the patients needing it while the remaining will get a subsidised cost. The only other hospital in the country with a proton beam is Apollo Hospital in Chennai.

    Dr Siddharth Laskar, professor of radiation oncology at TMC who will oversee the proton therapy, said the two patients had inoperable cancer. "Their cancer wasn't advanced as if it hadn't spread to other parts of the body, but it was inoperable,'' he said. The session went off smoothly, and they will take the radiation for another seven weeks. Another half a dozen patients have been identified for proton therapy. "We waited for a few months after the virtual inauguration to carry out thorough safety checks,'' he said. The hospital authorities plan to start offering the treatment widely within a short while.

    Dr Sudeep Gupta, director of the ACTREC facility in Kharghar, said, "The proton beam's advantage is that it delivers a high dose of radiotherapy to 'target volume' or the tumour mass. At the same time, organs surrounding the tumour are spared any long-term toxicity."

    The cost of the proton therapy in the private sector is between Rs 20 and 30 lakh. TMC, which works under the Department of Atomic Energy, will offer the treatment to paying patients at half the cost. "Underprivileged and general category patients will get it free,'' he said.

    Although proton therapy is relatively new, there is enough evidence to show that it's effective in cancers of the breast, oesophagus, gastrointestinal tract, gynecological, head and neck, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate, and spine. Doctors said that not all cancer patients require proton therapy.

    Rakesh Pathak, director of IBA India, the company that provided the machines for TMC, said, "The TMC machine is the latest and has special features that allow ease of handling. Considering that TMC will get a lot of patients, such features will help doctors save time."

    The foundation stone for the Tata proton facility was laid by former PM Manmohan Singh in 2014 in the Haffkine compund next to TMC's Parel hospital. However, duu to space constraints, the facility was moved to the kharghar facility.

    During the Covid pandemic, technical teams worked daily to finalise the centre. The TMC proton plant also has an made-in-India angle; its gantries were manufactured in India. After the einauguration of the facility, TMC director Dr Rajendra Badwe told TOI that the TMC proton therapy is the only one in the country to have three gantry machines. A gantry is a treatment room that rotates around the patient, delivering the beam to the tumor from the best angles; each gantry could be several storeys in height and cost between Rs 30 and 40 crore each.

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