The regional cancer centre of Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences could get an upgrade in six to nine months, with two premier national institutes pitching in to help it.
Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, have shown interest in helping the 14-year-old centre by providing training to doctors and paramedics and helping it acquire advanced equipment.
Set up as the cancer treatment centre of Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in 1996, it was converted into the regional cancer centre in 1999. But it still uses old gadgets like cobalt machine.
Describing the present condition, an official of the centre, said: “Our centre is quite old but we cannot provide advanced treatment to patients because we don’t have the latest equipment. At present, we only have a cobalt machine. It is not as good as a linear accelerator or brachytherapy machine.”
A brachytherapy machine is useful in the treatment of prostate, cervical, womb, head and neck cancer. Brachytherapy allows localised internal radiation to treat cancerous cells. The chemical used in delivering a dose of radiation to a particular organ is injected into the body with the help of this machine.
A linear accelerator is used to direct a uniform dose of X-ray to a particular tumour or group of cells. It destroys the cancer cells without affecting the surrounding tissue.
“These machines are expensive and difficult to use,” said the centre official.
Cobalt machines are used to treat cancer by producing stable gamma rays. But it is not without problems. “The radioactive material used in the machines has a very short life and needs to be replaced from time to time,” said the official.
All these could soon change for the better. Arun Kumar, director, IGIMS, said: “About six months ago, chief minister Nitish Kumar had discussed the possibility of developing a super-speciality cancer hospital in the state with Atomic Energy Regulatory Board officials. Following the discussion, a team from Tata Memorial Hospital — one of the consultants of the board — had visited the regional cancer centre (in May) to check the facilities here.”
Arun added: “The team suggested that the regional cancer centre should be developed as a super-speciality hospital. At present, the proposal is being discussed by the board, the Government of India and the chief minister’s secretary. If things work out, they would provide us with the machines and train our staff to use them.”
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board produces indigenous machines like linear accelerators.