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Cancer Cure just Got Safer

Times of India
22 May 2010
By Santosh Andhale

The Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel has introduced an upgraded version of radio therapy for Rs 80,000 The Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel has introduced an upgraded version of radio therapy for Rs 80,000
The Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel has acquired a tomotherapy machine worth Rs 15 crore which can treat multiple tumours without destroying normal tissues. Cost of the treatment is also less
There is good news for cancer patients suffering from multiple tumours. The Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Parel has acquired tomotherapy machine worth Rs 15 crore which will change the way oncologists in India treat cancer patients with multiple tumours.

Dr S K Shrivastav, head of the department of radiation oncology, TMH said, “It directs radiation to destroy only malignant cells and does not affect non–malignant tissue.” Tomotherapy is an upgraded version of radiation therapy.

Cost Factor
Senior doctors from TMH said that they would charge economically for the treatment. “The cost for tomotherapy treatment will be around Rs 80,000 but the same treatment costs Rs five lakh in Singapore, which is the nearest treatment centre for Indians.”

Explaining the functioning of the machine Dr Shrivastav said, “We take a computed tomography (CT) scan report of patients and feed it to the computer attached to the tomotherapy machine. After adjusting the radiation according to tumour size, we put patients inside the machine and take CT scans again with it. These are matched with earlier images. Once satisfied with the results, we start radiation. It targets only malignant tumours and leaves normal tissue untouched.”

Miracle Machine
A thin beam rotates around the patient’s body from many directions, while the stretcher moves into the machine. This effectively results in thousands of little beams of different intensities entering the body, converging on the tumours. A very powerful multiple–processor computer calculates the treatment plans and co–ordinates treatment delivery.

“Due to this new method, we not only provide the radiation to the patient but we protect normal tissue. If normal tissue is affected by radiation it can create multiple problems like ulcers and diarrhoea,” said Dr Shrivastav.

Around 70 per cent of cancer patients have to undergo radiation therapy. Tomotherapy will be useful in treating multiple tumours in one region of the body or even several regions. The machine can provide different dosages in the affected areas as per requirement. It can treat both, big and small tumours.

Generally, Tele Cobalt and Linear accelerator machines are used in radiation therapy. Dr Shrivastav said that these machines are also safe. “But compared to earlier methods of radiation, tomotherapy treatment gives 90–95 per cent better result,” he claimed.

Citing an example, he explained, “If we are treating a throat tumour we can avoid radiation to the salivary glands. Similarly, we can treat the spinal bone and avoid radiation to the spinal cord.”

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