Well-known oncologists and researchers from P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC and Kings’ College, London came together to deliberate the growing incidences of oncology, cost burden and the future of effective cancer treatment at a 3 day conference themed ‘New Frontiers in Breast and Thoracic Malignancies’ held at P.D. Hinduja Hospital. The first of its kind symposium was organized with the purpose of enhancing India’s efforts towards effective cancer management and providing higher standards of medical support in Breast, Lung and Esophagus cancers.
The symposium witnessed close to 40 experts who provided novel insights through a knowledge and expertise sharing session and was attended by over 150 practicing oncologists and post graduate students in medical, surgical and radiation oncology. The conference was inaugurated by Dr. V. Shanta, a prominent Cancer specialist, Chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai and the winner of several awards including the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan- the second highest civilian award by Government of India.
During the inauguration, Dr. V. Shanta, Chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai said “Our mission is and continues to be the prevention of preventable cancers, reducing the gap between state of the art treatment, research and its clinical application. It has been a matter of great hope and joy, and at the same time anguish, that we have done so little, and so much more is to be done in the field of oncology care. I believe that meetings like this will help us go forward.”
P. D. Hinduja Hospital has always believed that in order to tackle the health concerns of the population, an organization needs to be inclusive and collaborative with other institutions that echo the same value and commitment towards society. The hospital thus, has always been at the forefront of collaborating with international institutions for research and development. With the deadly disease of Cancer striking deep roots in India and with more and more people being diagnosed, it is imperative that newer forms of treatment and patient care be established. This joint symposium by P. D. Hinduja Hospital and Kings College, London was aimed at imparting newer and progressive knowledge to the medical fraternity to provide better medical care.
Highlighting the importance of the collaboration with Kings College London, Ms. Vinoo S. Hinduja, Executive Trustee, P. D. Hinduja Hospital said, “’Partnership for Growth’ has been one of our guiding principles laid by our founder P. D. Hinduja. I would also like to acknowledge the contribution made by Mrs. Indu Shahni, a globally recognized dynamic leader in the field of education, in bringing together P. D. Hinduja Hospital and Kings College. Kings College over the years has shown some exemplary work in the field of cancer care. This association will help both institutions explore core strengths to find better solutions by making critical knowledge available through a unified platform. We intend to inspire medical professionals and create global awareness on the current standing of cancer treatment and research.”
Mr. Gautam Khanna CEO of P.D. Hinduja Hospital said, “It has been an honour to host this vital conference with King’s College, London. This only reiterates our vision of engaging and sustaining international collaborations to become world leaders in the field of oncology.”
Apart from the lack of awareness and access to medical treatment, low income countries greatly lack necessary diagnostic facilities. As of 2015, it was found that only 35% of low income countries reported that they had pathology services available in the public sector. Such drawbacks affect the critical time within which an individual can be diagnosed to the time they begin to receive treatment.
Addressing the conference, Dr. Asha Kapadia, Chief of Medicine & Head, Department of Oncology, P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC said, “The death toll caused by cancer is growing at an alarming rate. Majority of these deaths are caused due to patients seeking treatment at very advanced stages. A study by ICMR in 2016 found that only 12.5% patients came for treatment during early onset of cancer. In order to increase these numbers and provide life-saving treatment in a low to middle income country, we desperately need to adopt global practices in prevention and early diagnosis. The Hinduja family and management has always encouraged and prodded us to excel in academics and service. With this conference, we aim to have stipulating scientific discussions that will help us steer in the right direction and help bring to the country improved measures that were previously hindering our progress in the field of cancer care and treatment.”
The conference witnessed sessions from leading King’s College experts namely, Dr. Arnie Purushotham, Dr. Ashutosh Kothari, Dr. Paul Ross, Dr. James Spicer and Dr. Vinod Mullassery and leading oncologists from across the country.
“It has been a great sharing experience coming to India and interacting with established experts and medical aspirants in the field of oncology. We have always had very fruitful partnerships in India and we see this as the next big partnership that we would like to forge. We look forward to sharing with you our learnings and look forward to learning with you over the next 3 days. I am glad to say that P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC is one of the first organizations to have a step towards working together for the betterment of the diseased in the country.” said Dr. Arnie Purushotham, Director of King’s Health Partners Cancer Centre (KHPCC), Chair of Breast Cancer at King’s College London (KCL).
The conference started on a brilliant note with the journey of cancer treatment in independent India through the eyes of Dr. V. Shanta, a practicing oncologist for the last six decades and recipient of several awards including the Magsaysay Award, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan. Dr. Arnie Purushotham and Dr. Ashutosh Kothari from Kings College, London deliberated on the upcoming trends in surgical techniques of breast cancer including intraoperative Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging (CLI) and Oncoplastic surgery. One of the key trends noticed is the rising incidence of breast cancer and an emphasis on early diagnosis by different methods including stereotactic biopsy.
Radiation oncologists from P. D. Hinduja Hospital highlighted the advances in radiation technology which have made radiation delivery shorter and increased safety with the usage of techniques like prone breast and deep inspiration breathe hold, now routinely done at P. D. Hinduja Hospital. Similarly, targeted therapies and newer agents have made chemotherapy more effective with fewer side effects. The experts also discussed robotic surgery and other advances in surgical techniques which have made complicated thoracic surgeries better. Through the panel discussions it also emerged that there is a definitive role of multimodality treatment in improving the survival in patients with esophageal cancer and in the area of lung cancer there seems to be a huge opportunity in improving outcomes in patients with lung cancer with the use of immunotherapy in coming years.
Prof. Dr. Somashekhar S.P, Chairman & HOD Surgical Oncology, Manipal Health Enterprise enlightened the evolving role and utility of artificial intelligence in medicine and particularly in cancer care and elaborated on the system they have developed in association with Watson and laid stressed on the fact that Artificial Intelligence is not meant to degrade role of physicians and the healthcare providers, but to help them decide the best possible treatment for patients and emphasized that it can be effectively utilized to decide individualized treatment based on an algorithm.
The 3-day conference saw leading doctors discussing and debating on several other important topics as well. The sessions ended on an extremely relevant note with talk by Dr. Arnie Purushotham about how affordable cancer care and policy making is essential, particularly in the scenario where we are going to face rising trend of all cancers when our population is ageing.