Hyderabad: With the cancer caseload in Telangana reaching 50,000 a year (2022), doctors say that dealing with patients in stage four of the disease is becoming a critical issue. This is also the reason why the theme of this year’s World Cancer Day on Sunday is bridge the gap in care-giving.
Doctors say that care providers often overlook the importance of pain management for these patients and there are many cases of families abandoning patients or completely neglecting them in this stage. For starters, Telangana, and the rest of the country for that matter, lack key ortho-oncologists who specialise in treating not only bone cancers but also assisting patients in the last stages of cancer. In 80 per cent of cancer types, the fourth state leads to bone-related issues causing deep pain and caregivers become fatigued.
India has just 30 ortho-oncologists and the city has just a handful. “One of my 65-yearold female patients had breast cancer and her hip bones were impacted in the final stages,” Dr Kishore Reddy, an ortho-oncologist, said. “I discovered that she was not eating adequately, which made matters worse. She told us she did not want to trouble her son and daughter-inlaw by using the toilet frequently.
We did a small procedure and she was relieved of much pain. Until then, she felt abandoned.”
While palliative management facilities are nil in the private sector, the MNJ Institute of Oncology and Regional Cancer Centre includes a 50-bed pain and palliative care centre. Under this centre, the government operates sub-centres and each district’s hospital has 8 beds.
Speaking about the inhuman conditions that fourthstage cancer suffer, MNJ director Dr N Jayalatha stated, “A month ago, a throat cancer patient was admitted to the acute; maggots were all over and his family did not even care to pick up the phone after admitting him. Our staff took care of him and delivered the body to the Osmania mortuary.
In one case, a woman left her husband at MNJ and never returned. But not all stories are sad. Urologist Dr C Mallikharjuna says, “One young patient was engaged to his long-time girlfriend. A routine medical exam revealed he had a renal tumour with a genetic transmission probability. After the therapy, he had no idea if he could marry, but the girl he was engaged to did not call off the wedding. Dealing with patients and families is essential for doctors.”