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Desk of Chairman

Pankaj R. Patel,
Chairman, G.C. R.I.

 
 

According to the World Health Organisation, cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. More than 14 million new cases are reported every year and over the next two decades, the number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70 percent. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer and the most common causes are cancers of Lung, Liver, Colorectal, Stomach and Breast. The disease burden is mounting as approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low and middle-income countries.

Every year, lakhs of Indians are affected by this deadly disease and on an average, nearly 1,500 Indians succumb to this dreaded menace every day. With new cancer cases or its incidence in India estimated to grow by 25% by 2020 (according to the cancer registry released by the Indian Council of Medical Research), cancer has become one of the leading causes of death occurring in the country. According to WHO’s Cancer Report, in India, lung, oral, lip, throat and neck cancers are the most common among men while women suffer more from cervix, breast and ovarian cancers. In the elderly, the most commonly occurring cancers are kidney, intestine and prostate cancer.

And yet between 30–50% of cancers can currently be prevented. This can be accomplished by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies. The cancer burden can also be reduced through early detection of cancer and management of patients who develop cancer. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if diagnosed early and treated adequately. Around one-third of the deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol use.

Lack of awareness, denial and delayed diagnosis and treatment continues to impede cancer treatment. We often find patients changing doctors when asked to go in for a screening or biopsy. The fear of invasive treatment, financial burden and the pall of gloom that descends on the family and the belief that the patient will always die makes cancer treatment an arduous journey. When it comes to cancer, it’s important to remember that early treatment is the best treatment.

Continued thrust on awareness, prevention, early diagnosis and research has strengthened our fight against cancer at Gujarat Cancer & Research Institute 'GCRI'. In its mission to provide world-class facilities for cancer diagnosis, treatment and research for the benefit of all sections of the society, particularly the underprivileged and needy, GCRI is leaving no stone unturned. It is the most affordable centre for bone marrow transplantation in malignant and non-malignant conditions. Last year, we treated 30,163 new cases, 3,94,712 outdoor patients and 2,30,253 indoor admissions. The institute performed 1,54,759 histological, cytologic and bone marrow examinations and 1,20,616 imaging & radiological investigations. Nearly 21,690 patients underwent major and minor surgeries, 55,390 patients underwent chemotherapy and 16,397 patients were given radiation.

Each year our fight against cancer intensifies

Our attempt at GCRI has been to fight cancer on multiple fronts. As the largest cancer hospital in the country, GCRI is an essential part of the cancer registry programme which plays an important role in ensuring good quality cancer data which is necessary for planning of health service and carrying out cancer control programmes. From awareness to prevention programmes, preventive health check-ups, setting up super specialities in cancer care and even other allied areas like home hospice care, physiotherapy, stoma clinic, speech therapy, prosthesis and rehabilitation, GCRI has been at the forefront, leading the march against this dreaded disease.

Our cancer care centre specialises in surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, preventive oncology, paediatric oncology, neuro-oncology, gynaec-oncology, radiodiagnosis and nuclear medicine, pathology and microbiology and laboratory medicine, and these are helmed by a team of highly qualified doctors and surgeons. The institute also has a bone marrow transplantation unit, endoscopy unit equipped with cutting-edge infrastructure for advanced care and treatment.

Research brings the hope for tomorrow

Our researchers are exploring new approaches to fight the disease as well as new ways to maximize the use of existing medicines, either alone or in combination with other therapies, to treat various forms of this disease. GCRI has been promoting basic research at its five well-equipped research laboratories on various aspects of cancer biology to help early diagnosis, monitoring, prognostication and cancer management. Currently, 22 research projects and 13 clinical trials are underway at GCRI.

GCRI also actively promotes academic studies and offers several post graduate and super specialty courses like DM, MCh, MD, DMRE, DA, DCP, DGO in oncology as well as M.Sc. in Cancer Biology and Ph.D. in Life Science. Besides this, it also offers diploma in medical laboratory technology and radiotherapy technologist certification programmes.

The crusade against cancer is a relentless one

In order to create awareness on prevention and early diagnosis of cancer, GCRI has set up a Community Oncology Centre in the city. The centre offers cancer related health check-up programmes, permanent cancer exhibit, high-tech mobile cancer detection van – the Sanjeevani Rath, a de-addiction clinic, and a hospice centre with 6 cottages for terminally ill cancer patients.

We need to continue to believe that cancer care research, state-of-the-art therapeutic efforts as well as intensive and extensive educational efforts towards prevention, detection, treatment and palliation, will help us win the war against this dreaded disease. For instance, tobacco is responsible for nearly 50 percent cancers in India and 90 percent of mouth cancer patients die within 12 months of diagnosis. Much of the suffering and death from cancer can be prevented through more systematic efforts to reduce tobacco use, improve diet and physical activity, and timely check-ups and screening.

A breast cancer survivor wrote in her blog, “You have to be knowledgeable and aware of the latest research. Knowledge is power. You and the doctors are working together for the greater good of your health and your survivorship. I’m blessed to live in an era where there are treatments that can help me live.”

A six-year-old ovarian cancer survivor had very little understanding of the medical procedures to help prepare her for the battle when she was first diagnosed with the dreaded disease. Fast action from her parents helped the medical team diagnose her ovarian cancer while it was still in Stage I. Now on the road to recovery, she may be too young to know exactly how serious her condition was. But she does know it was, “a pretty big deal.” She is dedicated to spreading the message of early awareness and regularly talks to her class and others about her experience. Her story is a great reminder for all of us to understand the signs, know your family history, and talk to your doctor early.

GCRI believes that there is hope and will continue its crusade against cancer.

Date :  July 29, 2017

Pankaj R. Patel

Chairman,
Governing Board, GCRI

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