02:03 GMT +325 May 2018
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    Cancer Weapons

    Indian Cancer Specialists Find a Virtual Way to Save Lives

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    India’s Virtual Tumor Board aims to bring about a major increase in the survival rate of cancer patients while making the treatment more affordable for the less privileged.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Cancer treatment in India is soon going to be more economical and effective than ever before. Leading cancer specialists from health care centers connected with the National Cancer Grid have joined forces to launch a ‘Virtual Tumor Board’ (VTB) with an aim of connecting with each other to plan the most effective treatment of patients with a complex form of cancer.

    Around 90 health care institutions that are part of India’s National Cancer Grid are expected to benefit from this initiative, the first of its kind in India. The Hospitals and cancer centers would be able to access free expert opinions form leading cancer specialists, reducing the cost of treatment, which is eventually borne by the patient. Moreover, it would save many of the patients’ expenditures on travel and living in the major cities that host cancer specialty centers. 

    “The VTB is a good step forward for India and I am convinced it will help us improve early screening, ensure that the right kind of treatment is given at the right time and boost the sharing of knowledge between experts,” said JP Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare.

    It is often found that doctors are divided between surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or mix of some of these options in treating complex cancer. A study in the US about a decade ago illustrated the disagreements that can emerge between doctors regarding complex cancer. A group of surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists were shown a hypothetical case of a complex case of prostate cancer. The majority of surgeons prescribed surgery, the majority of radiation specialists prescribed radiation, and the medical oncologists were divided between surgery and radiation.

    Through the VTB, members including surgeons, pathologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and imaging technologists came online to discuss particular complicated cases and seek suggestions from experts on the most effective treatment.

    According to an estimate, one-fourth of all cancer diagnoses each year in India are what could be labeled a "complex case," where the treatment is not obvious and necessitates a discussion between experts across specialties. But these teams account for less than 30 per cent of such cases. The National Cancer Grid (NCG) — a digital network linking about 90 cancer hospitals across India, was launched in 2012 with the aim of plugging this loophole.

    Meanwhile, the Indian Union has approved a scheme for enhancing the tertiary care cancer facilities in the country. Under the National Program for thePrevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS), the Union will provide financial assistance to each state for setting up tertiary cancer treatment centers, according to Health Minister JP Nadda


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