'An unspoken pandemic': AP reports 70k new cancer cases, 34K deaths annually; govt forms APCCC

"We will form a cancer grid, connecting all the cancer hospitals with the state government", said Special secretary, health and family welfare department, GS Naveen Kumar.

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  27 July 2022 6:14 AM GMT
An unspoken pandemic: AP reports 70k new cancer cases, 34K deaths annually; govt forms APCCC

Amaravati: Andhra Pradesh is reporting about 55,000 to 70,000 new cancer cases every year. Majority of the cancer patients are either opting for private hospitals or visiting other states for treatment. Studies by Global Burden of Disease (GBD) revealed Andhra Pradesh has a high number of cancer cases. The state is reporting about 55,000 to 70,000 new cases every year. However, the cancer screening rate is less than 5 percent.

To bridge the gap between reporting and availability of treatment in government hospitals, the Medical and Health Department has introduced cancer screening centers in 13 districts. This is the first step taken by the state government in revamping the cancer care infrastructure.

Data

YSR Aarogyasri Trust figures reveal that the state had around 1,30,000 cancer patients in 2021-22. Breast cancer accounts for nearly 16 percent of the total carcinoma cases in Andhra Pradesh. Data in Aarogyasri services shows cervical cancers took second place with around 14 percent, and 6 percent of patients suffer from oral cancer. Cancer claims approved under the Aarogyasri scheme alone increased to over Rs 400 crore in 2021-22 from about Rs 100 crore in 2014-15. East Godavari and Guntur contributed to 13% of the total cases each in 2021-22.

Cancer care program

For the early detection of CA especially among women above 40 years, the state has launched Andhra Pradesh Comprehensive Cancer Care (APCCC) project. So far, the state does not have proper data on how many cancer cases are reported. "We are now starting a cancer registry to notify every cancer patient in the hospitals. Through this, all cancer patients will be registered. We will form a cancer grid, connecting all the cancer hospitals with the state government", said Special secretary, health and family welfare department, GS Naveen Kumar.

From preventive aspects to tertiary treatment, 13 districts will now have cancer screening centers, either in separate blocks or attached to the district government hospitals. Seven medical colleges have been identified wherein cancer care units will provide free treatment and three centers of excellence are proposed in Vijayawada, Tirupati, and Vizag.

The state has signed an MoU with Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital & Research Centre for technical support. "Every district will have day-care centers. A roadmap will be given by Homi Bhabha on how to function. Under this program, a comprehensive secretariat for cancer care is proposed to be established in Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Visakhapatnam", said State Program Officer, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), J Narsinga Rao.

Hospice centers

While the majority of advanced-stage cancer patients need palliative care including trauma management, the state will soon have a five-bed palliative care facility (hospice centers) in every teaching hospital in the state. The palliative care unit will have a team of doctors, staff nurses, general physicians, psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers. The Health Department is estimated to allocate approximately Rs 2 crore for each hospice center. Reports say, there are approximately 34,000 cancer-related deaths per year in the state. About 70% of cancer patients need palliative care.

"The palliative team will be trained by the experts from Pallium India, Tamil Nadu, for providing quality palliative care and effective pain relief for cancer patients. The expert teams will visit Andhra Pradesh to train the staff", said Mr. J Narsinga Rao.

Cancer hospital in Kurnool

Health department officials said post bifurcation of the state, major healthcare infrastructure remained in Telangana, and the state has no specialized cancer hospital.

The state only has a cancer-care facility at Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati. Taking a bigger step, the State Cancer Research Institute and Hospital proposed in Kurnool is likely to start functioning in the next few months. Constructed with a budget of Rs 120 crore, the hospital has tied up with Tata Cancer Hospital, Mumbai, for technical support.

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