Cancer care in India has undergone significant developments in recent years, reflecting improvements in infrastructure, awareness, and the availability of advanced medical treatments. However, challenges such as the burden of cancer cases, disparities in access to care, and the need for comprehensive preventive strategies persist. Read to learn more.
India faces a high burden of cancer cases, with both communicable and non-communicable types contributing to the prevalence.
Breast, lung, cervical, and gastrointestinal cancers are among the most common types in India.
In a breakthrough towards enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, scientists from the Department of Atomic Energy and M/s. IDRS Labs Pvt. Ltd. Bengaluru has joined hands to develop AKTOCYTE tablets.
Nutraceutical ‘AKTOCYTE’ to Transform Cancer Care
The AKTOCYTE tablets have shown remarkable results, particularly in pelvic cancer patients suffering from radiotherapy-induced Cystitis (Blood in urine).
- Patients treated with AKTOCYTE tablets demonstrated an extraordinary recovery, eliminating the need for surgical removal of the urinary bladder.
- The tablets, designed as an adjuvant to cancer radiotherapy, regenerative nutraceutical, immunomodulator, and antioxidant, mark a significant advancement in cancer care.
- AKTOCYTE has received approval from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), operating under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
- This regulatory clearance emphasizes the safety and compliance of AKTOCYTE tablets, assuring both healthcare professionals and patients about their efficacy and quality.
Remarkable Recovery in Pelvic Cancer Patients: AKTOCYTE tablets have demonstrated exceptional efficacy in pelvic cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, showcasing significant recovery and eliminating the need for surgical interventions.
Versatile Applications: The tablets serve as more than just a supplement. AKTOCYTE is positioned as an adjuvant to cancer radiotherapy, a regenerative nutraceutical, an immunomodulator, and an antioxidant, showcasing its versatility in cancer care.
Regulatory Approval: The approval by FSSAI underscores the commitment to safety and quality standards, providing healthcare professionals and patients confidence in the reliability of AKTOCYTE tablets.
Market Availability: Anticipated to hit the market in January 2024, AKTOCYTE tablets are poised to become a transformative addition to cancer treatment protocols.
The collaboration between the institutions of DAE and industry has been instrumental in bringing this breakthrough to fruition. The development marks a pivotal moment in the convergence of scientific innovation and practical solutions for cancer care.
Cancer care in India
Cancer is being diagnosed and treated at various levels in the Government health care system.
The Government has taken a range of steps in recent years to address the challenge of cancer more effectively.
These range from population-level initiatives for prevention, control, and screening for common types of cancer, to strengthening cancer care infrastructure.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer under Ayushman Bharat
- The establishment of Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs) across the country was announced by the Government of India in February 2018.
- Screening of three common cancers i.e. oral, breast, and cervical along with other common Non-Communicable Diseases, is an integral part of service delivery under the AB-HWCs.
- Treatment of cancer under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana3 (launched in 2018) has been one of the prime focus areas to safeguard the beneficiaries from catastrophic expenditure of cancer treatment.
- Health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year is provided for secondary or tertiary care hospitalization to over 10.74 crore beneficiary families identified from the SECC 2011 database.
- Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy packages, along with surgical oncology are covered as part of cancer treatment in the empanelled hospitals under the scheme.
- Measures have been taken to discourage the use of tobacco products, which is one of the key risk factors for Cancer.
Focus on Oncology in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
- Significant focus on Oncology in its various aspects has been ensured in the new AIIMS that is being established under the aegis of Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).
- The six functional AIIMS in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur, and Rishikesh already have operational cancer treatment facilities.
- These AIIMS have been provided with state-of-the-art diagnostic, medical, and surgical care facilities. The other AIIMS are being set up with cancer treatment facilities.
Strengthening Cancer Care Infrastructure
- Cancer Care Facilities in other Medical Colleges under PMSSY Cancer treatment facilities have also been created/planned in 13 State Government Medical Colleges which have been taken up for upgradation under PMSSY.
Enhancing Facilities for Tertiary Care of Cancer
- The Central Government is implementing the Strengthening of Tertiary Care of Cancer Scheme7 to enhance the facilities for tertiary care of cancer.
Cancer Care Infrastructure in North East India
- One of the major projects identified for the year under PM-DevINE– announced in Budget 2022-23 with an initial allocation of Rs 1500 crore- is the “Establishment of Dedicated Services for the Management of Paediatric and Adult Haematolymphoid Cancers in North-East India”.
Giving a Boost to Cancer Research
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) at Jhajjar, a state-of-the-art Tertiary Cancer care cum Research Institute constructed at the AIIMS Jhajjar campus, is responsible for identifying priority areas for Research & Development carrying out basic and applied research in molecular biology, genomics, proteomics, cancer epidemiology, radiation biology and cancer vaccines.
- The second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute11, Kolkata is also a key step in the same direction.
- The Centre for Integrative Oncology (CIO) has been established as a joint venture of the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) and the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR-ICMR) with the intention of collaborative research activities in cancer.
- The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a Cancer Research Initiative, “Affordable Approaches to Cancer”.
Other Initiatives by the Government for Cancer Care
- The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), under the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, put out a list of 390 anti-cancer non-scheduled medicines with MRP reduction of up to 87% in 2019.
- Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Promoting Domestic Manufacturing of Medical Devices was approved in 2020.
- The Government has taken many steps to promote research in Ayurveda to develop treatment of cancer.
FIRST Cancer Care (FCC) initiative
The First Cancer Care (FCC) initiative by India is a digital roadmap designed to comprehensively address preventive and curative Cancer management, and deliver care that is of higher quality, timely and precise.
- The FCC initiative addresses the formidable challenge of India’s rising cancer rates, projected to reach 1.57 million cases by 2025, up from 1.39 million in 2020, according to the 2020 ICMR Report of the National Cancer Registry Program.
- The FCC report is a digital roadmap designed to comprehensively address preventive and curative cancer management and deliver care that is of higher quality, timelier, and more precise, in an equitable manner across India.
The recommendations are laid out in three Cancer Care Value Pathways:
- Population Health: New technological capabilities proposed in the Population Health Pathway could mean earlier cancer diagnosis and lower cancer morbidity and mortality rates. Using digital tools to support screening will give millions the opportunity for early detection and treatment, leading to better health outcomes.
- Capacity Building Pathway: It adopts a blended-learning model. It is expected to empower professionals and health workers with knowledge and lead to better, faster diagnoses and a reduced referral period using tele-technologies for remote care.
- Data Pathways: It is named the Oncology Data Model, and specifies standards and norms for all aspects of cancer data – from data capture to privacy protection to interoperability and standards in alignment with India’s Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).
- A value pathway is an independently implementable segment of the cancer care value chain, comprising digital and physical processes for a continuum of care.
Cancer care in India is evolving, with various challenges and advancements. While significant progress has been made in terms of infrastructure and treatment options, concerted efforts are required to address disparities, improve early detection rates, and make advanced cancer care more accessible and affordable for the entire population. Public-private partnerships, increased awareness, and ongoing research will play crucial roles in shaping the future of cancer care in India.
-Article by Swathi Satish