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Assam joins virtual tumour board for advanced diagnosis

Cancer treatments
National Cancer Grid

GUWAHATI, June 20: Assam has joined the virtual tumour board launched by a network of cancer specialists in India to receive effective treatment guidance for critical patients.

The virtual cancer board, a body with cancer specialists in surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, is currently working through the National Cancer Grid (NCG) – a digital network linking the leading hospitals across the country. The board makes up for the absence of similar multi-disciplinary oncology teams in different cancer hospitals.

“Patients with complex cancers often leave doctors divided on treatment procedures or protocols between surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or some mix of these options. Treatment of such patients cannot be done in isolation by doctors and need a discussion by experts across different specialities,” a cancer specialist told The Sentinel. He said oncologists of the State are not so far linked with the virtual tumour board.

But with the inauguration of the Digital Information Nerve Centre (DiNC) at the State Cancer Institute at Gauhati Medical College & Hospital premises here on Sunday, oncologists of the State will now able to join the virtual tumour board to discuss treatment procedures of critical patients with experts from leading hospitals in the country. A virtual tumour board room has already been set up at the State Cancer Institute to interact with cancer specialists across the country at regular interval to know the line of treatment and investigation for their patients. In the first phase, two premier cancer hospitals — Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai and Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata – will be linked with DiNC at State Cancer Hospital. Regular interaction with cancer specialists will start from this month.

As per the Indian Council for Medical Research, 31,825 new cancer cases are reported in the State every year and that 70 per cent of these patients face mortality due to lack of treatment or late diagnosis.

A doctor at GMCH said ideally the course of treatment for every patient with cancer should be discussed by a tumour board.

“There may be some breast cancer patients for whom even when surgery is the option, chemotherapy before surgery may give better results,” the doctor said.

While most the leading cancer centres in India already have tumour boards, the virtual board will help patients from the other centres without access to such expertise.

“The board will throw in fresh ideas and provide collective decisions from a team rather than from individual doctors,” the doctor said.