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'Holistic approach lacking in treating cancer patients'

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam points out that psychology issues are never addressed in cancer care in India

Press Trust Of India  |  Chennai/ Hyderabad 

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam today lamented that a "holistic approach" was lacking in treating cancer patients in India and stressed on the need for making psychology systems an integral part of cancer care. Inaugurating a four-day Global Oncology Summit-2013 at a convention centre here, he pointed out that psychology issues were never addressed in cancer care in India.

"There is also the psychology factor in cancer treatment. Unfortunately, cancer patients are not approached in a holistic manner and psychology issues are never addressed as cancer hospitals in India have very few psychologists (along with oncologists)," Kalam noted.

Referring to a DRDO-sponsored study conducted by the Centre for Psycho-Oncology Education and Research, Bengaluru, he said 40 per cent of cancer patients experienced moderate to severe psychological distress which warrants professional psycho-oncological interaction.

"There are 80 lakh cancer patients at any point of time and 11.2 lakh of them require psycho-oncological care which is not available in all hospitals across the country. Psychology systems should be made an integral part of mainstream cancer care," the former President maintained. Indian oncology should have a vision for bringing down cancer mortality and incidence rate, he said.

"We can do it at societal and professional levels. Tobacco control has to be strengthened. Affordable and accessible diagnostic therapy and palliative care should be made available in every district."

Pointing out there were only 1,200 qualified oncologists for 1.2 billion people, he said it was essential that an Indian oncology network be set up for cross reference. "About 60 per cent of cancer patients are actually being treated by non-oncologists, general practitioners and other specialists," he added.

The former President stressed the need for Indo- American collaboration in cancer research to make treatment affordable. On the occasion, Kalam felicitated Devendra D Patel, a pioneer in surgical oncology.

The Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute has organised the summit.

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First Published: Fri, March 29 2013. 20:16 IST