Gastrointestinal cancers here on alarming rise: Dr Sameer Kaul
SRINAGAR: Kashmir’s well-known oncologist, Dr Sameer Kaul, on Saturday blamed Jammu & Kashmir’s obsolete techniques of cancer therapy for deaths due to the disease during the last decade.
Dr Kaul said that upper respiratory and digestive tract cancers had seen a serious upward trend in J&K. The most common among them is gastro intestinal cancer, which has resulted in the maximum mortality.
He said the tertiary care hospitals of Jammu & Kashmir, especially the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura, were yet to upgrade treatment facilities along modern lines to confront the disease.
“Oncologists based in J&K are still making their cancer treatment plan on chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which is now seen as an obsolete treatment because of huge side-effects,” he told the media during an awareness programme here at Kashmir Clinic.
The programme was organised by the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, following the increase in cancer patients at the health institute over the years.
“It’s the age of precision oncology, where a personalised treatment is given to patients using genetic mutation at the molecular level. The treatment targets a particular cell without affecting normal cells, unlike chemotherapy and radiotherapy.”
Recently, the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) CT scan facility was started at SKIMS Soura after many years of waiting. However, no money was paid for it by the government. The funds to install the machine came from 26 members of Parliament, but not a rupee from the J&K government.
Dr Kaul said the PET scan facility will make a huge different and improve treatment plans. But, he said, a lot needs to be done in this regard.
Dr Kaul said gastrointestinal cancers had been prevalent in Kashmir for a long time now and have led to many deaths.
“The most common cause for this type of cancer is food habits. People here take a huge quantity of dried vegetables and roasted meat. Such eating habits give rise to unregulated acid peptic disease, which in turn leads to cancers of the gastrointestinal tract,” he said.
A senior consultant of surgical oncology at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, Dr Kaul said people should limit their consumption of red meat, especially if it has gone through the roasting and grilling process.
“Dried and pickled vegetables also increase the risk of gastrointestinal cancers. So, people must stop the consumption of these foods,” he said.
According to Dr Kaul, the cancer treatment facility for J&K patients must be upgraded so they can receive the benefits of medical advances and reduce the incidence of cancer deaths.
“Facilities should be upgraded on modern lines, and the government must encourage private players and businessmen to invest in health so that people get affordable treatment at their doorstep,” he said.
He stressed the need to introduce an easy insurance policy for people so that they can afford expensive treatments for various diseases.
“It is nearly impossible for lower-middle-income families to afford modern cancer treatment even if they sell everything. Only health insurance will solve the majority of the health-related problems,” Dr Kaul said.
As per official figures, reported in a section of the media Jammu Kashmir has witnessed a nearly 87 percent rise in cancer cases during the last seven years, which is alarming.
According to official data, the number of cancer cases in 2017 was recorded as 5,731 which is 87 percent higher than the figure recorded seven years ago in 2011 when 3,057 such cases were witnessed.
As per Dr Kaul, lack of awareness is also a major factor in the increased incidence of cancer in Kashmir.
“Authentic scientific data related to cancer is not available in J&K because cancer registry was started in recent years in the state. We have been handling cancer in J&K based on clinical experience and observational studies,” he said.
from J&K”, is it ‘not a single rupee’ or ‘not a single one’ — as in, not one JK MP?