The Tata Memorial Centre constitutes the national comprehensive cancer entre for the prevention, treatment and research on Cancer and is comparable to any similar center in the world. This achievement has been possible due to the far-sighted and total support of the Department of Atomic Energy, responsible for managing this Institution since 1962.
In 1932 when Lady Meherbai Tata died of leukaemia, after treatment abroad, Sir Dorab Tata was determined to establish similar facilities for the treatment of Cancer in India, initially planned for with a Radium Institute in Bombay. Sir Dorab unfortunately died in 1932. Such was the commitment he made that the Trustees of the Sir Dorab Tata Trust, along with various outstanding Cancer specialists committed themselves in 1935 to the establishment of the centre that would benefit the Nation with a more lasting value than the usual philanthropy . Out of this humanitarian concept and commitment from the House of Tatas was born the nucleus of a Hospital, in 1941, called the TATA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL.
The Tata Memorial Hospital was initially commissioned 57 years ago in 1941 with a small eighty bed Hospital. In 1952 the Indian Cancer Research Centre was established as a pioneer research institute for basic research - later called the Cancer Research Institute (CRI). In 1957 the Ministry of Health temporarily took over the Tata Memorial Hospital. The transfer of the administrative control of the Tata Memorial Centre (Tata Memorial Hospital and Cancer Research Institute) to the Department of Atomic Energy in 1962 was the next major milestone. This was due to the foresight and the vision of Dr. Homi Bhabha, who envisaged the major role that radiation would play in cancer treatment - from imaging to staging and actual therapy. The TMH and CRI merged as the two arms of the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) in 1966 represented a classic example of private philanthropy augmented by Government support, with a mandate for Service, Education and Research in Cancer.
It is important to remember the contributions of Dr. J.C. Paymaster, Dr. E. Borges, Dr. D. Meher-Homji , Dr. D.J. Jussawalla, Dr. V.R. Khanolkar, Dr. K.J. Randive and many others towards building this Institute. In more recent times Dr. P.B. Desai, Dr. R.S. Rao, Dr. M.G. Deo, Dr. A.N. Bhisey and Dr. K.A. Dinshaw have given impetus to the rapid progress. With the total commitment of the DAE and successive Chairmen from Dr. H. Bhabha, Dr. V. Sarabhai, Dr. H.N. Sethna, Dr. R. Ramanna, Dr. M.R. Srinivasan, Dr. P.K. Iyengar and Dr. R.C. Chidambaram the Centre has rapidly expanded its functions and activities.
The current activities of the Tata Memorial Hospital and the level of eminence reached in its various spheres of expertise are worth recording. Nearly 25,000 patients visit the clinics annually not only from all over India but also from neighbouring countries. Nearly 60% of these cancer patients receive primary care at the Hospital of which over 70% are treated free of any charges. Over 1000 patients attend the OPD daily for medical advice, comprehensive care or for follow-up treatment. The Hospital has expanded from a 80 bed Hospital covering an area of 15,363 sq. meters to a 441-beds spread over 53,890 sq. meters. Our Annual Budget was Rs.5 lacs in 1941 - today it runs close to Rs.28 crores.
Nearly 15,000 minor operations, 8500 major operations and 500 laser surgeries are performed annually. About 5000 patients are treated with Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy annually in multi-disciplinary programs delivering well-established treatments.
Surgery remains the vital form of treatment along with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Much progress has been made resulting in tremendous improvements in the overall survival of disease in many sites.
The strategies for early diagnosis, treatment management, rehabilitation, pain relief and terminal care have been established in a comprehensive and multidisiplinary approach for a total cancer care programme.
Many advances have taken place in every speciality. In surgery, the changing concepts have taken into account the biology of cancer. Radical surgeries have yielded place to more conservative surgery, with the very important objective of quality of life, conserving function and organ without compromising the overall survival outcomes. This has been very clearly proven in the early stage cancer of the breast or tumours involving the soft tissue or bone, where amputative surgery has been replaced by less radical procedures. Radiation therapy has also made rapid advances with high technology, precision, computerization and newer isotopes for therapy. Chemotherapy has played a very major role, with many new drugs and clinical protocols investigated in clinical trials.
The TMH was the first Centre in the country to initiate Bone Marrow Transplant in 1983. This has been possible due to better total supportive care using better antibiotics, nutritional, blood transfusion support, nursing and other areas.
Another important area of progress over the last few years has been radiological imaging techniques using ultrasound, CT Scanners and more dynamic real time nuclear medicine scanning.
Pathology has progressed from basic histopathology to molecular pathology with emphasis on predictive assays for identifying the high risk prognostic factors.
Today, state-of-the-art equipment is available in every Department including the latest Spiral CT Scanners, Gamma Cameras, Ultrasound, Microscopes, Linear Accelerators, Simulators, Bone Marrow Transplantation facilities, ICU for critical care of patients, updated Operation Theatres, sophisticated Blood Bank facilities and laboratories. We are in a position to render high immunological, histochemical, technological level of biochemical, cytological and pathological services.
Supportive care in the form of total rehabilitation, and counselling of patients is widely recognised to be very important aspects of therapy. Excellent work has been carried out in areas of Patient Rehabilitation, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychology and medical Social work.
Preventive Oncology has a very major and important role to play for early diagnosis, screening and down staging of cancer. Patient should come in earlier stages, and high risk individuals should be sensitized and made aware of signs and symptoms of cancer for early screening and examinations. Public education and community based programmes have been strengthened as an effective means of optimizing the impact of available resources.
Our Programs for Cancer awareness, prevention, and control are well recognized and established with a satellite Rural Cancer Centre at Barshi. Recently, awareness campaigns highlighting the cancerous effects due to the sustained use of tobacco, banning the use of tobacco in the entire Hospital complex, targeting school and College children by educational programs highlighting the terrible effects of smoking and preventing them from even starting the habit, are some of the activities in progress in the Department of Preventive Oncology.
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