A collaboration between a British university and Indian institutions is helping improve the survival rates associated with childhood cancer in India.
The collaboration between the University of Manchester and the Tata Medical Centre in Kolkata is helping to improve cure rates in children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in India by 10-15 percent. The knowledge transfer from Manchester is also raising standards of cancer care at Paediatric Cancer Centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Chandigarh, the university said on International Cancer Survivors Day on Sunday.
Professor Vaskar Saha, a paediatrician from the University of Manchester, has helped cure children diagnosed with ALL by 15 percent during the five years he has led the Indian Childhood Collaborative Leukaemia Group (ICICLE) clinical project, in partnership with Tata Medical Centre in Kolkata. “In the UK, 450 children are diagnosed annually with ALL, of which 400 will survive. In India, 9,000 of the 15,000 children diagnosed annually will survive.”
“Not so long ago, four in ten Indian children would die because of poor treatment and relapse. The former was mainly due to the absence of standardisation in testing and treatment. If we can improve outcomes in India by 10 percent then an additional 1,500 children a year grow up to lead normal lives,” he said. Saha’s research has increased survival rates in Kolkata from 65 percent in 2014 to 80 percent in 2019, the university said.
“It means that around 80 percent of children with the most common childhood cancer are now likely to survive following treatment at major centres across India, thanks to his revolutionary approach,” it said in a statement. Originally from West Bengal, Saha previously led research which helped increase survival rates among children with the condition by 10 percent in the UK.
Saha is a professor of Paediatric Oncology at The University of Manchester and Senior Paediatric Consultant and Director of Translational Cancer Research at the Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata.
“With the help of colleagues in the NHS [the UK’s National Health Service] and across the world, we’ve successfully integrated modern diagnostics and monitoring into routine cancer care. This not only saves lives, it also saves money as children who don’t require intensive treatment are identified early and we are using IT tools to monitor and manage patients so they can return home early.”
Mammen Chandy, Director, Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, said the institution was researching appropriate therapy through the ICICLE project, with the aim of collaborating with international specialists who can bring their skills and laboratories to India. With the ICICLE project, clinicians are able to share their knowledge in order to work towards standardised systems.