Oncology is one of the most sought-after treatments, and the Medical Tourism Market report by Allied Market Research projects that the Indian medical tourism industry will reach $9 billion by 2027. In recent years, India has also become a hub for clinical trials, with many pharmaceutical companies and research organizations choosing to conduct trials in the country. This has led to a growing body of knowledge about cancer treatments and has increased the availability of new treatments and medications.

By Dr Suvro Parui

As a result, patients in India can access cutting-edge treatments that may not be available in other countries. Its strong network of international airports and hospitals makes it easy for patients to reach the country and receive treatment. India witnesses medical value travellers from countries such as Mauritius, Nigeria, Iraq, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kenya, the UK and the US to name a few.

World Health Care Report January 2023 says, India has introduced a low cost Proton Beam Treatment, which offers shelter to cancer patients across the globe. Apollo Proton Cancer Centre (APCC) is the first and only Proton Treatment Centre in South Asia and the Middle East added a significant new Proton Gantry in 2023, known as the “Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Therapy Bay” to its portfolio. Advanced radiation therapy, known as Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) is used to treat cancer patients. This treatment is not the same as conventional radiation therapy, which is currently used to treat cancer patients.

PBT precisely targets the affected tissues and deposits its radiation from charged particles only on the affected tissue and body part, thereby significantly reducing side effects and damage to healthy organs and tissues in the body. This is in contrast to traditional therapy, in which the radiation that is administered to patients travels through the body and damages not only the cancerous tissues but also healthy tissues. Head and neck cancers, brain tumors, and other cancers typically respond well to this treatment. In the past two decades, radiation oncology in India has advanced significantly. PBT per patient costs around 150-200,000 USD in USA, and across India it is available around 2.68 lakh in Indian rupees. According to the CEO of Apollo Proton Cancer Centre, Harish Trivedi, the price at which this treatment is given to patients in India is much lower than what it costs in the US or in the UK.

“Our prices are comparatively much cheaper than in the US and UK. We are giving this treatment at a 60% to 70% cheaper rate than in those countries.”

According to estimates, the Proton Beam Therapy machines cost somewhere between Rs 500-550 crore and are as big as a three-storied building. Over the years, the Centre has treated close to 1,000 patients.

This article first appeared in www.vifindia.org and it belongs to them.