Thursday September 9 2010

Indian doctors to bring robotic cancer surgery to Uganda


Cancer care treatment in developed countries has improved largely because of technology, but in poor countries like Uganda it is still a big problem. There is hope however. Doctors from HCG Cancer Care Network in India set foot in Kampala recently to expand their services here. They were headed by Dr B. S Ajaikumar the CEO of the Cancer Care Network.

The doctors displayed the latest technology known as cyber knife robotic radiosurgery system which they use back in India. Dr Ajaikumar said HCG was the first to introduce the technology in India and so far, there are two centres which use it in that country.

The cancer clinic which they set up at Kanjokya Street in Kamwokya will start off as an information centre with free access to the internet where people will get information related to the disease. “We shall be sending one of our doctors every month to run a consultation clinic,” Dr Ajaikumar said while addressing the media at Protea Hotel. The clinic will run for four days every week.

Dr Ajaikumar said he and his team had made a tour to the Cancer Institute in Mulago and found that the technology used in operating cancer patients is outdated. And while the centre receives many patients, it is understaffed. “In such a case, there is absolutely no way you can receive proper care, because cancer requires specialised treatment,” he said.

He added that the doctors at the Cancer Institute were knowledgeable, but they do not have the facilities. The Cancer Institute still uses cobalt 60 which is not very effective in cancer treatment. Cobalt 60 for a long time now has been over taken by linear accelerator which is a popularly accepted form of radiation therapy equipment which gives better treatment with minimal side effects. But now developed countries have even progressed to robotic treatment which gives precise treatment.

Dr Ajaikumar explained that by using the old method, a patient cannot get proper dosages of the medicine. “Cobalt 60 is effective in certain instances. By using it, normal tissues get a lot of the dosage, which is not supposed to happen and that is why using this method limits the amount of dosage you can use on a patient.”

“Cyber knife can penetrate normal tissues without harming them. It delivers precise treatment without using surgery but by using radiation. We believe removing body parts while operating a cancer patient is a thing of the past,” he stressed. “We hope to bring this technology here and we hope to change the cancer case in Uganda like we did in India.”

Dr Ajaikumar said that the Robot is given directions by the surgeon for it to treat the affected part. “While being treated, the patients can keep talking, breathing properly or listening to music if he or she wants,” he said. The treatment takes three hours and a patient is required to take three of such treatments to heal properly. Besides that, Ajaikumar said they are planning to take local doctors to India for exchange programmes and teach them about new technology.