Jennifer Shaheen Hussain
In a first across the northeast region, a new radiation oncology block with TomoTherapy facility was launched by Assam cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday at the State Cancer Institute (SCI) of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital. The facility made at a cost of rupees 28 crores is also the first to be installed across any government medical college in India.
TomoTherapy is an advanced treatment for cancer that uses radiation to destroy or shrink tumors. It destroys the tumor in the located organ without disturbing and harming the healthy tissues in other organs and cells of the body. It combines the precision of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with the real-time accuracy of CT scanning (also known as image-guided radiation therapy, or IGRT). Alongside, the TomoTherapy facility, a true beam linear accelerator was also launched today.
Moreover, in the new radiation therapy block, two linac machines will be installed in the bunkers constructed. An existing machine is already operational.
An MoU signed between the state government and TATA Trusts led to the formation of the Assam Cancer Foundation (ACCF) that oversees the development of cancer care in the state. ACCF has donated the TomoTherapy facility for its installation in the institute. The SCI in the last four years since its inception has become an apex centre for cancer cure in the state.
On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the State Cancer Institute, Sarma stated, “Assam will be a living experience for other states to follow in days to come, in at least cancer care treatment”.
The minister revealed that by August 15 this year, another ten cancer hospitals will come up in the state and will be launched on the same day. In the second phase, another seven hospitals will be set up.
He said once all these hospitals will become operational, “Assam will become the best known destination for cancer care”.
Confident that Assam will spearhead cancer care treatment in the country, Sharma stressed that a guest house should be constructed in GMCH. The minister believed with such upgraded facilities within the next five years, patients from across the country will be visiting the city frequently.
Expressing displeasure over the delay of the launch of another upgraded facility – PET MRI, the minister said, due to the outbreak of COVID and managing it to contain its spread in the state, the facility is yet to be installed. However, he mentioned, after its installation, GMCH, will most likely be the fourth in the country among both private and public hospitals to avail the facility.
Besides, installing equipment and developing infrastructure, the minister said that the government and the institute is focusing on strengthening human resource. SCI has got approval from the Indian Medical Council to start post graduate programme (M.Ch) in Surgical Oncology for two seats.
The anniversary celebration of SCI was attended by the institute’s director Dr. B.C. Goswami, TATA Trust CEO Srinath Narasimhan, Principal Secretary To Assam for Health and Family Welfare Samir K Sinha, and Head of Medical Oncology and Research Director of Prince Aly Hospital, Mumbai, Dr. Tapan Kumar Saikia.
Dr. Saikia delivered the anniversary oration on Covid-19 & Cancer: What was lost, Still Losing, and Path to recovery.