Kerala: Shortage Of Oncologists In The State May Risk Cancer Care
The stats jointly prepared by the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) show that Kerala still has a long way to go on the road to good cancer care in their state with only 180 oncologists in the state
At present, only 180 oncologists in Kerala
- Shortage of oncologists pose grave threat to public healthcare in Kerala
- Thiruvananthapuram has only six seats for cancer specialty
- The basic private sector cancer care treatment costs up to 2 lakhs
At present when the total number of cancer cases reported in Kerala have crossed the 50000 mark, a shortage of oncologists pose grave threat to public healthcare in the state. The stats jointly prepared by the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) show that Kerala still has a long way to go on the road to good cancer care in their state with only 180 oncologists in the state. This comprises only 33 medical oncologists, 35 surgical oncologists, 104 radiation oncologists, four hematologists and pediatric oncologists each which not even close to sufficient for the purpose.
What is more surprising is the fact that not even a single medical college in the state possesses clinical or surgical oncologists. This indicates that the state does not have enough manpower to meet the needs of cancer patients. This can be owed to the lack of young doctors who would wish to pursue a specialization in this field. The state has only three teaching centres for cancer specialists namely the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) in Thiruvananthapuram, the Malabar Cancer Centre and the Amrita Institute of Medical Science, Kochi.
"RCC, Thiruvananthapuram, has only six seats for cancer specialty of which only one is reserved for a student from Kerala. No institute in the state offers DM in Hematology. Beginning new courses in medical oncology and surgical oncology will help in dealing with the lack of trained specialists to an extent," says Dr P G Balagopal, a medical superintendent at Kochi Cancer Centre.
"To this day, the RCC in the state capital is the only government sector hospital equipped with every cancer care facility. Those who cannot afford treatment at private hospitals have to go to RCC. This is inconvenient for a person from the other end of the state. Comprehensive cancer care must be within every patient's reach," Balagopal said.
The private sector cancer care where the basic treatment costs from 1.5 lakh to 2 lakhs annually is not affordable for the middle class families.
"Given the situation, it is imperative comprehensive cancer care becomes a part of all government medical colleges.There should also be an initiative to spread cancer care into general and district hospitals so that patients have access to chemotherapy and radiation facilities at local hospitals," says Dr Prasanth, RMO, Department of Palliative Care, RCC, Thiruvananthapuram.
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