A Healthy Future
The Indian Cancer Congress held its second national conference in November, where a distinguished panel discussed the future of Oncology in the countryBy Arun Francis
The second chapter of the Indian Cancer Congress (ICC) 2017 was held from the 8th to 12th of November, 2017, at the Clarks Convention Centre in Bengaluru. This year’s conference revolved around the theme, Insight, Innovation, and Integration. The conference was an amalgamation of four major national oncology associations and several sub-specialty associations to improve the quality of cancer care in the country. This affiliation strengthened the purpose of the ICC to reach out to all those involved in the fight against cancer in myriad ways, paving way for a new dawn in the Indian cancer landscape.
Globally, the rapidly changing scenario of cancer, and the disease being a non-communicable, conquerable lifestyle disease, has provided newer insights into its diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. The aim of the conference, its four major national oncology partners, and the Karnataka government, was to provide a platform to spread cancer awareness through various initiatives. Bengaluru, known as the Silicon Valley of India, has always attracted a large number of tourists and has remained one of the most advanced healthcare destinations in India. The conference saw prominent national and international delegates in multidisciplinary specialties, such as surgical, medical, radiation oncology, oncopath, genomics, radiology, scientists and research, unite at the conference. Understanding the implications of this serious disease, the government of Karnataka has become one of the first states in the country to announce cancer as a “notifiable disease.” The government also announced its decision to take various initiatives towards cancer awareness and treatment at district levels, and its plans to open super-specialty hospitals across the state. Other highlights of the conference included a major step by the National Centre for Disease Informatics (NCDI), wherein they launched electronic mortality death certificates. Apart from these, a full-day programme on generic drugs was also organized to explore the possibility of biosimilar drugs.
A critical session on clinical trials was held on the second day to explore ideas in cancer research. The key highlight of the conference was the Indo-US and Indo-UK networking session on the collaboration of cancer research in India. That aside, original research papers were presented during the event, and in a collective effort to encourage young oncologists in research, various awards and national and overseas fellowships were sponsored. Commenting on the success of the conference was Professor K S Gopinathan, Chairman of the Congress, and the Secretary, professor Ramesh S Bilimagga. “We are really excited that the second edition of the Indian Cancer Congress has received a great response, with the help and support of the Government of Karnataka and the Health Ministry. India, being the most progressive country in terms of cancer research, is a testimony to the hard work demonstrated by cancer specialists across the country, and the conference has acted as a platform to showcase that hard work on the world map. The event has further helped strengthen cancer research and development in the country,” says Gopinathan.
The four major oncology associations of the country (Association of Radiation Oncologists of India, Association of Surgical Oncologists, Indian Society of Medical and Pediatric Oncology and the Indian Society of Oncology) came together in 2013 to organize Indian Cancer Congress once every four years. ICC 2017 enjoyed the support of over 4 professional bodies and 6 leading international associations involved in cancer care. With a confirmed faculty of over 230 global thought leaders, the conference saw over 3,500 delegates. Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman, and MD of Biocon, India’s leading biopharmaceutical company, was the patron of ICC 2017.
The conference has benefited the cancer care society and additionally, has aided in further research and development. At present, there are around 33 lakh cancer patients in India and each year around 6 lakh patients die of the disease, and nearly 10 lakh new cancer cases are diagnosed. India bears a disproportionate amount of cancer cases and possesses 50% of the world’s oral cancer cases. On the other hand, Bengaluru has seen a massive growth of cancer cases with approximately 113 cases for every 1 lakh male patients and 139 cases for every 1 lakh female patients, according to the population-based cancer registry. The panel discussed various measures to combat this shocking rise in statistics and create a better, healthy population. The event spanned five days, with a day of pre-conference workshop and the next four days of the conference. The programme consisted of presentations, panels, round table discussions, and lectures with an emphasis on audience participation. This year’s Indian Cancer Congress has immensely helped care providers implement new ideas and research into their practice as well as further the discussion of best practices to curtail the rapid growth of cancer cases and provide quality care to patients.