Therapy Trapped in Time Warp

The palliative care unit of General Hospital, that houses terminally-ill cancer patients, still uses outdated radiotherapy technology

Published: 04th February 2014 09:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th February 2014 09:11 AM   |  A+A-


The queue in front of the Oncology Department at General Hospital is  long and winding. The palliative care unit that houses terminally-ill cancer  patients is full. Many patients who have lost both hope and money look upon   the hospital as their last resort. Unfortunately, Kerala’s first  radiotherapy unit in the General Hospital runs with a technology that dates  back to 25 years.

To treat cancer, there are three modes -  surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. While the hospital offers the best chemotherapy treatment in the state, it fumbles with the radiation therapy.

“While the most-modern linear accelerator therapy was introduced in medical field around 15 years ago, the hospital still runs the show with age-old cobalt therapy,” says Dr Vinod Kumar, Radiation Oncologist.

“We started off with Radium, then came Cesium and then Cobalt. Unfortunately, we are stuck in Cobalt whereas electron linear accelerators  constitute the core of the equipment of a modern radiation therapy,” he added.

According to sources, the major disadvantage of cobalt therapy is that it is not precise. “Owing to lack of precision, chances stand high that it can destroy cells which are not diseased,” they said.

The situation could have been different if the government showed some will   at a time when the hospital is doing everything to provide maximum benefits for patients.

Besides, the Oncology Department has only four doctors. Of them, one is  retired and the other is on contract. There are only two PSC-qualified doctors.

Though the Regional Cancer Centre is an acclaimed name in cancer treatment, doctors say the Ernakulam General Hospital is the best when it comes to palliative care for terminally-ill patients,says Dr Mohan G, Medical Officer, Department of Palliative Care.

“We are with them till the end of their lives. When RCC takes care of patients who are diagnosed early and can be cured, we attend to the medical needs of patients till their death. Three teams from the palliative care unit tour across the district offering services which you cannot get in RCC. With limited facilities, we are doing our level best and if we get modern  facilities, the benefits will be manifold,” he said.

“When the cancer centre becomes a reality, Ernakulam General Hospital should be made an auxiliary institution to reap out the maximum benefits. But that takes time, hence measures should be taken to update the services of the hospital,” they added.

Stay up to date on all the latest Kochi news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp