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Updated: October 13, 2013 11:40 IST

Coimbatore's Regional Cancer Centre getting mostly tobacco-induced cases

R. Sairam
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Main reason for cancer cases is ignorance about healthy lifestyle and diet

A majority of the cancer cases being treated by Coimbatore Medical College Hospital’s Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) are found to have been caused by tobacco products such as cigarettes, pan masala and ghutka.

Lung, head and neck cancers, all of which are caused by tobacco use, constitute nearly one-third of all cases treated at the Rs. 15 crore-centre, which became operational last month.

A. Suresh Venkatachalam, Head, Department of Surgical Oncology, RCC, said that they were also treating a larger number of cervical cancer patients from rural areas, who developed the problem due to lack of hygiene.

The main reason for cancer cases, he said, was ignorance about a healthy lifestyle and diet besides not realising the need for regular health check-ups. Only around 10 per cent of patients came at a stage early enough to be cured.

R. Vimala, CMCH Dean, said that the centre was treating patients from all districts of Western Tamil Nadu besides border districts of Kerala. Awareness was the key for early detection of cancer. All those above 40 years must undergo frequent health check-ups, she added.

The main objective of the cancer centre, which was staffed with dedicated doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists, was to provide all treatment under one roof, Dr. Suresh said.

H. Muthukrishnan, Head, Department of Radiation Oncology, RCC, said that the centre had been sanctioned a Linear Accelerator, a state-of-the-art equipment used for external beam radiation treatment of the cancer patients.

It delivers high-energy X-rays that destroy the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.

This Rs. 12 crore equipment would be installed in the centre’s new building, the construction of which was about to commence shortly, he said.

The surgical oncology wing was soon going to get a video endoscope and video colonoscope, at a total cost of Rs. 35 lakh, besides a laparoscope worth around Rs. 40 lakh. At present, many of the equipment were sourced from the general surgery wards.

The radiology wing of the centre was equipped with mammogram, Computerised Tomography (CT) scan, ultra sonogram, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and echo cardiogram equipment.

The centre also had a cryostat or frozen section machine which could confirm presence of cancer while the surgery was under way. While this process gave the results in 20 minutes, the previous process of using ‘paraffin’ took five days.

Further, he said that they were now focusing on breast conservation and reconstruction, laparoscopic abdominoperineal resection and laparoscopic radical hysterectomy.

Training programmes

The centre was also planning to join hands with the Department of Public Health to conduct training programmes for medical officers of Primary Health Centres in identifying various types of cancers. Such training would help identify cancer patients at early stages when it could be cured.

Apart from this, the centre was also planning to conduct rehabilitative counselling for cancer patients who had undergone major surgery or chemotherapy.

Tracing the history of cancer treatment at CMCH, Dr. Suresh said that chemotherapy and surgeries were performed for cancer patients from as early as in the 1980s.

Surgical Oncology was introduced in 1998 followed by radiation therapy in 1999. The first exclusive ward for radiation therapy was established in 2009 with the addition of breast conservation and reconstruction treatment from 2010.

In the same year, an exclusive operating theatre for surgical oncology was also opened.

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