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An Indian-origin professor at the University College London has developed a low-cost targeted radiation device that can cut 15-20 radiotherapy sittings for breast cancer survivors post-surgery to just one on the surgery table. Talking about his device, Dr Jayant Vaidya, professor of surgery and oncology, said that the seeds of the Targit (or Targeted Intraoperative Radiotherapy) idea came during his stint at the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital in Mumbai where patients who did not actually need mastectomy but could have done just with lumpectomy and radiation after that had to have their breasts removed simply because they did not have a place to stay in Mumbai for the six weeks that the radiation would otherwise take.
“The device was developed in UCL and is currently being manufactured by Carl Zeiss. I do not make any money from it but it gives me great satisfaction that some 20,000 women across the world have already got treated by it. I am in touch with AIIMS and Tata Memorial Hospital for its installation here,” Dr Vaidya told The Indian Express on the sidelines of the Difficult Dialogues Summit where he presented his device during a session on cancer.
The device would cost about Rs 3-4 crore in India, he added while a conventional radiotherapy machine could cost upwards of Rs 10-15 crore. For the patient too there would be substantial savings as it is given inside the operation theatre just once. “I have done it on some patients in India and am in touch with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who was the CM of Goa for its introduction in government hospitals,” he said.
Dr Vaidya is originally from Goa. Breast cancer is currently the most common form of cancer among women in India with the incidence rate touching 26 per 100,000 people with Mumbai and Delhi topping the list of cities with the most number of breast cancer patients.
Meanwhile, at the cancer session titled — “Are We Doing Enough”, cancer doctors, survivors and bureaucrats talked about how India can deal with its ticking cancer bomb and the need to hike government spending on both its prevention and awareness. Tobacco was painted as the primary villain as speaker after speaker talked about the need to ban the product with such far reaching health consequences.
“There are six government ministries – commerce, rural development, labour, finance, industries and agriculture that deal with tobacco but only one – the Ministry of Health that deals with its consequences,” said Dr Sneh Bhargava, cancer specialist at the Dharamshila Cancer Hospital. Film actor Manisha Koirala, a cancer survivor herself, spoke about her own experience and the need for early detection.