Promotion of nuclear medicine in India

Subsidization of equipment and radioisotopes

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Nuclear Medicine
India needs rationalization of resources, subsidization of equipment and radioisotopes, and training of more medical and non-medical personnel in nuclear medicine.

Nuclear medicine is giving promising results for patients of prostate cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and other types of cancer where surgery is not an option. However, starting a nuclear medicine department in a hospital or diagnostic center is a humongous effort and investment is quite high. To overcome this, India needs rationalization of resources, subsidization of equipment and radioisotopes, and training of more medical and non-medical personnel in nuclear medicine. This was said by doctors at a one-day Conclave on Nuclear Medicine held in New Delhi under the aegis of the Society of Nuclear Medicine India’s North India Chapter, in association with Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad.

More than 250 doctors from prominent medical institutes and hospitals across northern India attended the conference, called Theranos, to discuss important discoveries and latest treatment techniques in the field. The goal was to explore the growing scope of nuclear medicine in the treatment of cancer, its benefits and new discoveries and modern methods of treatment.

Said Dr Swagat Dash, HOD and senior consultant – Nuclear Medicine, Sarvodaya Hospital, Sector-8, Faridabad, “With the advent of SPECT-CT and PET-CT scanners in the last two decades, nuclear medicine in India has seen exponential growth. Now we have a host of radioisotopes for Gamma camera imaging, PET imaging and radionuclide therapies. Top Indian hospitals offering world-class nuclear diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are attracting more and more foreigners for quality services at affordable prices. But there are many challenges too in terms of access and affordability.”

Dr Dash added, “To establish nuclear medicine infrastructure, investments are huge and returns are slow. For this reason, most nuclear medicine facilities are clustered in tier 1 and tier 2 cities. In smaller cities, revenue generation is a challenge, so the procedures tend to be costly and out-of-bound for most people. Due to this, nuclear medicine is seeing relatively slower growth in India compared to other branches of medical science. Sensitization and awareness of doctors from other specialties is needed to ensure increased utilization of nuclear medicine services. The country also needs more intensive research and trials in the field.”

Nuclear medicine deals with radioactive sources in the form of injections or oral liquids to diagnose and treat various diseases. As compared to radiology, nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures exploit physiology of each organ system to diagnose disease at the earliest stage. Nuclear medicine can help diagnose or treat diseases like thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, neuro-endocrine tumors, liver tumors, lymphomas, brain tumors, and thyrotoxicosis (excess of thyroid hormone in the body).

Said Dr Pankaj Douggal, president, Society of Nuclear Medicine (North India Chapter), “This conference was a milestone in creating awareness among doctors about nuclear medicine as a treatment option. It aimed to help medical professionals from different parts of North India to enhance their knowledge and ensure better health outcomes for patients by offering the latest nuclear medicine diagnosis and treatment to patients.”

Dr Chandrasekhar Bal, head of Nuclear Medicine at AIIMS, along with Dr Ishita B Sen, director – Nuclear Medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram; Dr Sanjay Gambhir, professor and head, Department of Nuclear Medicine, SGPGIMS, Lucknow; and Dr Partha S Choudhury, director – Nuclear Medicine, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, Delhi actively contributed to increasing the pool of knowledge at the conference.

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