Towards A Brighter Future
The Gujarat Cancer & Research Institute is changing the face of cancer care in the countryBy ARUN FRANCIS
“CONTINUED THRUST ON AWARENESS, PREVENTION, EARLY DIAGNOSIS AND RESEARCH HAS STRENGTHENED OUR FIGHT AGAINST CANCER AT GUJARAT CANCER & RESEARCH INSTITUTE.”BY PANKAJ PATEL
The state granted the Society four acres of land in the New Civil Hospital Compound to construct a cancer hospital. Eventually, significant donations from M P Shah’s charitable trust and the state helped fulfill the dream of transforming the hospital into a fully equipped research institute. In February 1972, GCRI, an autonomous institute, was born. Talking about the institute’s mission to save lives and create a healthy future, Pankaj Patel, Chairman of GCRI, says, “In its mission to provide world-class facilities for cancer diagnosis, treatment, and research, for the benefit of all sections of the society, particularly the underprivileged and needy, GCRI is leaving no stone unturned.” A 660-bed comprehensive cancer care center, GCRI is one among the country’s 25 Regional Cancer Centres (RCC) that are supported by the National Cancer Control Programme.
What began with a surgical oncology and anesthesia department has grown into a super-specialty center today, which includes general surgical oncology, pediatric surgery, neurosurgery, reconstructive and plastic surgery, musculoskeletal surgery, urosurgery, and an interventional therapeutic center. The institute’s advanced technology and research departments have helped it achieve several firsts. In 1983, GCRI was hailed as the first institute in the country to perform laser surgery, and in 1998, the first neurosurgery. Moved by the plight of its patients during and after treatment, GCRI began a pain and palliative care unit in 1973. The center also provides hospice care at a unit in Vasna, which has been functional since 1988. The institute is also the first RCC in the country to provide gynecological oncology services as well as the first to have begun a dedicated pediatric oncology center.
Though Dr. Shashank Pandya, Chairman of GCRI, feels that the development of research is often stifled by bureaucracy, poor quality of education, insufficient funding and the lack of a cancer tissue biorepository, he sees hope ahead. GCRI is equipped with the latest equipment that helps it deliver world-class facilities to its patients. The institute has 14 operation theatres and has set up six laboratories that are involved in R&D in early diagnosis, monitoring and cancer management.
GCRI has collaborated with B J Medical College under Gujarat University and provides courses across multiple specialties. As a socially conscious institute, GCRI hosts detection camps and community awareness workshops. The institute has set up a community oncology center in the city that offers cancer-related health checkup programmes, a permanent cancer exhibit, a de-addiction clinic, and a high-tech mobile cancer detection van, Sanjeevani Rath, which is equipped with the most advanced mammography and sonography machines. Talking about the institute’s future plans, Dr. Pandya says, “In the coming year, GCRI will move into a new building and will work towards earning NABH accreditation. We will continue to strive towards our mission of providing powerful, innovative therapies to cancer patients, improving quality of life, and restoring hope. We wish to emerge as a global leader in cancer control and to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can give us new life-saving therapies.”