Five terminally-ill cancer patients from the city’s slums —the youngest aged 20 and the oldest 70 years — underwent surgery using a high-end machine called the Heated Intra-Peritoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) at the BMC-run Sion hospital.
With this, Sion has become the first municipal hospital across Maharashtra to procure this machine for treating abdominal cancers.
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In the last six months, doctors attached with the hospital’s general surgery department provided free treatment to the five patients and removed the tumour that had spread from their abdomen.
According to dean of the hospital Dr Suleman Merchant, the new technique is used to treat cancer that spreads in the peritoneal cavity, a space close to the abdomen wall which makes it “difficult to treat”.
“Once the tumour spreads, it results in death within six months to a year,” said Dr R R Satoskar, head of Department of Surgery at Sion hospital. According to him, the efficacy of the equipment lies in the fact that it can carry out chemotherapy directly in the peritoneal cavity as against the existing treatment mechanism which makes treatment difficult through injecting the drug through the veins.
In six months, HIPEC machine-based treatment has shown better survival rates for the patients.
“For instance, last stage stomach cancer patients can now expect a 25 per cent chance of survival upto five years and colon cancer patients have a 40 per cent chance. In case of ovarian cancer, women can have 50 per cent chance of surviving longer at an advanced stage,” said Satoskar.
Apart from Sion hospital, the machine is available with Saifee hospital at Charni Road in the state.
While in private hospitals, the treatment cost with the HIPEC machines is expected to range between Rs 10 to 12 lakh, in public hospitals the cost will come down to Rs 1.5-2.5 lakh.
Currently, in Sion hospital, the machine has been funded by an NGO named Sunday Friends.
The hospital has requested to the state government to include HIPEC treatment in the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevadayi Arogya Yojna scheme for poor and indigent patients.
“We have also requested the government to raise the sanctioned amount for cancer treatment from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh,” Merchant said.