The procedure now costs Rs.10,000 to Rs. 15,000 as the radioactive Iodine-125 seeds used are provided free by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre which manufactures them in Mumbai.
Cancerous growths within the eye can now be treated here with embedded radioactive plaques, instead of removing the eye. The cost-effective treatment, called ocular brachytherapy, has been performed on 20 patients since 2008 at Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research (SRIOR) in collaboration with Aravind Eye Hospital (AEH), said SRIOR director P. Guhan at a press conference.
The procedure now costs Rs.10,000 to Rs. 15,000 as the radioactive Iodine-125 seeds used are provided free by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre which manufactures them in Mumbai. Earlier, it cost Rs. 1.5 lakh as the seeds were imported from Europe, said AEH chief medical officer V. Narendran.
Ocular brachytherapy is used to treat retinoblastoma in children and choroidal melanoma in adults. Retinoblastoma occurs one in every 30,000 live births and choroidal melanoma in six in a million people and is more predominant in the West than in India. If untreated, the cancer can spread to other organs and even cause death. The tumours are usually treated with enucleation (removing the eye) or controlled with chemotherapy. Through ocular brachytherapy the eye can be salvaged and patients regain 60-70 per cent of their vision, said AEH paediatric ophthalmologist Parag K. Shah. “The procedure is especially beneficial for children whose parents refuse removal of the eye for young children,” said Dr. Narendran. Ocular brachytherapy can only be performed at centres that are equipped for radiology treatment, said Dr. Narendran. The procedure is an interdisciplinary one as the treatment dosage is determined by oncologists, the radioactive seed is prepared and placed on a gold plaque by medical physicists, and the plaque is surgically sutured over the tumour by ophthalmologists. The patient spends five to seven days in isolation following which the plaque is removed. The results of SRIOR and AEH’s efforts have been published in the July 2012 issue of the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology.