'Today, more than 60 per cent of all cancers are cured... India needs to come forward with a national cancer control plan.'
'Patient and public education and advocacy are essential to break down cultural barriers.' US-based cancer specialists had much advice to offer their Indian counterparts at the Indian Cancer Congress. Rediff.com's George Joseph reports.
India needs to learn from the mistakes that the United States made in its war against cancer around 30 years ago, US-based cancer specialists say.
Addressing the Indian Cancer Congress, Dr Lawrence Lessin, chairman of the Open Educational Resources in Cancer, said: 'In the past 40 years, cancer has become demystified and de-stigmatised for the public, and cancer mortality curve has been bent, so that now more that 60 per cent of all cancers are cured with an 80 per cent cure rate for childhood cancers.'
This has been accomplished by public education, prevention and screening, early detection, and improved therapies with less toxicity and greater efficacy, Dr Lessin said.
'It became evident to me that the knowledge base of Indian oncologists is up to date,' Dr Lessin said, adding, 'However, the state of public education, patient advocacy, oncopolitics and many areas of practice are reminiscent of where we were in the US 30 years ago.'
'India should learn from our mistakes and successes, and come forward with a national cancer control plan that has the support of the oncology community. Patient and public education and advocacy are essential to break down cultural barriers and the cancer stigma,' he added.
'Cost effective screening methods should be researched and developed specific to the needs in India to achieve early detection and diagnose most cancers in stages 1 and 2, where they are curable. In the US, 2/3rd of all cancers are stage 1 and 2, compared with India where ¾th are stage 3 and 4.'
Dr Savitri Singh-Carlson, associate professor at the School of Nursing at the California State University said, 'My perception is that the oncology care team that includes social workers, nurses and oncologists are very eager to make changes in their practice that will lead to best patient-centred care that is available for them.'
'We were approached by many oncologists who want their nurses to receive advanced education on treatment protocols, critical thinking skills and research, whereas the oncologists are wanting to advance their own educational level and learn higher skilled strategies and skills in order to address the challenges they practice under their individual settings,' Dr Singh-Carlson said.
Jeanne Sewell, assistant professor at the School of Nursing at Georgia College, who serves as editor for the MERLOT Health Sciences Editorial Board, said she was 'extremely impressed with the compassion and care for patients and their families exhibited by the oncology nurses and physicians that she met in India.'
Image: Sachin Tendulkar and his wife Dr Anjali Tendulkar support the Crusade Against Cancer Foundation and raise money for children with cancer, who cannot afford expensive treatment.