Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, honored Bhubaneswar Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) by presiding over the inauguration of its Elekta Synergy® linear accelerator on April 20 in Guwahati (Assam). The Synergy system – equipped to perform the most advanced radiotherapy techniques – joins BCCI's first Elekta treatment system, installed in 2000. BBCI, established in 1973, is among the leading cancer institutes of east India, and was recognized as a Regional Cancer Centre in 1980.

"It was very gratifying to have an influential public figure such as Dr. Singh recognize the importance of increasing access to medical technology in India – which will hopefully influence the decision-making process at other regional hospitals that are seeking to invest in linear accelerators," says Brendhan Vahey, Managing Director, Elekta India. He, and his predecessor, Percy Shroff, attended BCCI's Synergy inauguration.

Elekta and other healthcare providers have partnered with medical centers and clinics across India to address a serious shortage of radiation therapy equipment. India's population of 1.21 billion* significantly dwarfs the number of radiotherapy systems available to its residents, Vahey adds.

"To match a developed nation's ratio of inhabitants to linear accelerators alone, India would need about 10 times as many treatment systems," he notes. "Fortunately, the Indian radiation therapy market is growing at an unprecedented rate – over 15 percent per year – almost double its current GDP growth," Vahey says.

Advanced capabilities

BBCI's new Synergy system is fully equipped with the most advanced radiation therapy techniques in use today, including Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT).

In the state of Assam – as it is across India – head-and-neck cancer and tobacco-related cancers (mainly lung cancer) comprise 15-20 percent of the total cancers. Among males, the top three cancer incidences are oral cavity, larynx and lung cancer, while in women, cervical and breast cancer are the most common. In metro areas, prostate and breast cancer incidences are rising. At any given time in India, there are about three million individuals who have cancer, with approximately 960,000 new cases identified per year, and rising rapidly. A national task force estimates that two-thirds of those diagnosed with cancer will need radiation therapy.

"We will continue to see a tremendous need for cancer care in India for many years to come," Vahey says. "As a leading supplier of comprehensive solutions for cancer management in India, it is Elekta's responsibility to work closely with healthcare professionals to make these advanced solutions available to the public."

*India is projected to be the world's most populous country by 2025, surpassing China, with a population reaching 1.6 billion by 2050.