The summer capital Srinagar has recorded highest number of cancer cases, among all districts of J&K, during the past two years, as per the data available at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS).
In response to an RTI filed by rights activist and Secretary of J&K Peoples Forum MM Shuja, the hospital administration has revealed that 11,281 new cancers cases were registered at the institute from 2018 until this year.
Giving breakup, the data shows that 2,601 cancer cases were registered from Srinagar, followed by Anantnag with 1488 cases, 1,422 cases from Baramulla, 1,032 cases from Budgam and 1,007 cases from Pulwama.
Besides, 728 cancer patients from Kupwara were registered at the institute for treatment, 672 patients from Kulgam, 532 patients from Ganderbal, 493 patients from Bandipora, 472 patients from Shopian.
The data reveals that 165 cancer patients were registered from Doda and Ramban, 118 patients from Poonch, 101 patients from Rajouri, 93 patients from Kishtwar, 26 patients from Jammu, 20 patients from Reasi, 10 patients from Udhampur and five patients each from Kathua and Samba, apart from 108 and 18 patients respectively from Kargil and Leh.
Amid the rise in the cancer cases, non-availability of facilities at the tertiary care hospital forced many patients to travel outside J&K for the treatment, from 2018 until now, the institute has revealed in response to a separate RTI by Shuja.
The hospital administration has said owing to the non-availability of facilities including Stereotactic Radio Surgery (SRS), Stereotactic Radiotherapy (SRT), MR-based HDR Brachytherapy, Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT), Intracavitary Brachytherapy (ICBT) and Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), the cancer patients were being referred to hospitals outside Kashmir for treatment.
While SRS and SRT are both treatment methods of delivering radiation therapy to cancer tumors, these facilities may be used instead of or along with surgery. SRS involves a single radiation treatment while SRT uses a series of treatments over time.
HDR brachytherapy is used in the treatment of gynaecologic and prostate cancer while SBRT is a cancer treatment that delivers extremely precise and very intense doses of radiation to cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.
IGRT is a type of cancer treatment that uses imaging technologies such as PET, MRI, and CT to more accurately and safely deliver radiation to cancer cells.
The SKIMS has provided the details in response to the RTI filed by rights activist and Secretary of J&K Peoples Forum MM Shuja, about number of cancer patients referred to various hospitals outside Kashmir from 2018 until this year.
The reply reads that those cancer patients who were advised for SRS/SRT had to move outside for treatment in 2018, since facility was not available. While, in 2019 cancer patients requiring MR based HDR Brach therapy had to move outside for treatment due to unavailability of the facility. Similarly, in 2019 due to unavailability of treatment facilities including SRS, SBRT and ICBT hospitals, the patients requiring were referred outside for the treatment.
In 2020, the cancer patients advised IGRT were also forced to travel outside for treatment, since the facility was not available at the hospital.
Amid continuous rise in cancer cases in Kashmir, the RTI reply states no sub-center under SKIMS in any area of J&K has been established so far for providing medicine, consultation, and therapy to cancer patients incapable of undertaking journey.
The institute does not have specific budget for purchase of anti-cancer drugs, however anti-cancer drugs provided free of cot at the hospital were being purchased from the routine budget.