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Tackling cancer together
- Western boost for oncology research in city

Neurologists from the US and Canada will train city specialists through several CME (Continuous Medical Education) programmes in Calcutta. At a symposium on neuro-oncology, organised by the National Neurosciences Centre and Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, oncologists from the West expressed a desire to help research in Calcutta. “The idea is to have more interaction between doctors in Calcutta and those in the West,” said Abhijit Guha, neurosurgeon from Toronto.

Delegates felt while research in the West had advanced to the study of particular genes causing malignant brain tumours and better understanding of the molecular structure of the tumour to bring down cancer rates, doctors in Calcutta were handicapped by lack of resources.

“The treatment of malignant cancer may be the same in Calcutta as anywhere in the West, but we do have better resources and infrastructure to continue the research,” Guha said.

According to Dr S. Gangopadhyay, head of department (radiotherapy), Medical College and Hospital, adequate funds are necessary to carry out research. Speaking on newer techniques to counter brain tumour, Guha said: “We are here to interact more with the neurologists on the advances of neuro-oncology and management of brain tumours through a combination therapy and revaluation of the treatment process.”

The two-day symposium had been divided into six parts, mainly basic sciences, surgery, medicine and radiation, apart from future therapies, covering the study of molecular structure of the tumour and gene therapy, or understanding the genes responsible for causing tumours. The participants also discussed various case studies.

Visiting neurologists stressed the fact that treatment of malignant tumours in India and abroad were similar, but the West was, perhaps, holding the key in terms of better infrastructure and research.

“The rate of deaths from malignant brain tumours are no different here, but we are researching a lot in trying to find out the molecular biology of the tumour and learn more about cancerous cells,” said Guha.

He added that treatment of brain tumours was more targeted towards biological therapy, which is the right combination of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and medication. According to neurologists, in North America, for instance, every 13 persons per lakh were being hit by primary brain tumours. Children, too, were suffering from it, accounting for four per cent of all cancer-related deaths.

The situation is worse in India, particularly West Bengal, with several cases of brain tumour reported throughout the year. “We have machines but we do not have enough resources to conduct research here,” added Gangopadhyay.

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