New proton therapy at Guwahati Medical College to revolutionise cancer treatment: Assam CM

New proton therapy at Guwahati Medical College to revolutionise cancer treatment: Assam CM

Assam's Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced plans to advance the state's healthcare sector by introducing a proton therapy machine for cancer treatment at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital. This initiative is expected to revolutionize cancer care in the Northeast region.

Story highlights
  • Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma plans to introduce proton therapy for cancer treatment
  • Proton therapy to be set up at Guwahati Medical College Hospital costing 500-600 crores
  • Initiative aims to provide accessible cancer care and reduce treatment costs in Northeast

In a recent tweet, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma unveiled plans for a major advancement in the state's healthcare sector. 

On June 17, CM Sarma announced on X, "Spent 3 hours at Guwahati Medical College discussing future growth and improved patient care. A key idea emerged: installing a proton therapy machine to revolutionize cancer treatment in Assam. More deliberations to follow."

Following this announcement, India Today NE had an exclusive interview with Dr. Abhijit Sarma, the Superintendent of Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, who shed light on the proposed proton therapy unit. Dr. Sarma explained, “Proton therapy is the latest treatment therapy for cancer patients, but it's highly expensive. It is not there in any government sector excluding Tata Memorial and in the private sector, Apollo has it. Assam government is trying to set up a proton therapy unit under State Cancer Institute, Guwahati Medical College Hospital, (SCI, GMCH) at the cost of about 500-600 crores.”

Dr. Sarma emphasized that proton therapy represents the latest advancement in cancer treatment. He said that proton therapy is effective in targeting cancerous cells with precision while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. However, he noted that proton therapy is currently available only at select institutions due to its high cost. 

When asked about the feasibility of this treatment for economically disadvantaged individuals due to its high cost, Dr. Sarma mentioned, “I think the government is going to think over it, have two models sort of a thing like Tata Memorial, where one part is for the poor patient and the affluent society with different rates respectively.”

Regarding the technical aspects of installing the proton therapy unit, Dr. Sarma explained, “There is only one company who does it, so they will have to come and give us a demo and other details. There will be a process and then it will be done.” He also mentioned that CM Sarma inspected the construction site of the Medical College and Hospital building and verified the status and timeline of pending works.

The Northeast region, known for its unique geographical position as a chicken neck corridor, faces significant healthcare challenges. Every year, a substantial number of people from the region are compelled to seek medical treatment outside their states, often at private healthcare facilities. Many families are forced to sell their lands and valuable assets to afford treatment for themselves or their loved ones.

In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in cancer cases globally, attributed to changing lifestyles, environmental effects, and other factors. As a result, the burden on families and communities has grown considerably, both financially and emotionally.

The proposed introduction of proton therapy in Assam represents a significant turning point in healthcare for the entire Northeast. Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses protons to target cancer cells with precision while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. It is particularly effective in treating tumors in sensitive areas such as the brain, spine, and prostate.

This advanced form of cancer treatment will not only benefit the Assamese community but also serve as a life-changing asset for people across the region. By providing accessible and state-of-the-art cancer care within Assam, the need for extensive travel and high treatment costs can be minimized, offering hope and relief to numerous individuals and families facing cancer-related challenges in the Northeast.

Further deliberations and discussions are expected to take place to finalize the implementation of this initiative, which holds promise for revolutionizing cancer treatment in the region.

Edited By: sanchayaita roy
Published On: Jun 17, 2024