GUWAHATI, Jan 1 - Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) is going to embark on a fund-raising campaign to provide nutritional support to child cancer patients and terminally-ill cancer patients from this year.
The institute will also intensify its community-based programme for prevention and early detection of cancer.
�Nutrition is an important part of the health of all children. It is especially important for children receiving cancer treatment. Both cancer and its treatment may affect a child�s appetite, tolerance to food and their body�s ability to use nutrients. Eating the right kinds of food before, during and after treatment can help a child feel better and stay stronger,� said the Director of BBCI, Dr AC Kataki.
About 200 new childhood cancer patients are treated every year at the BBCI. Another 400-500 older patients report to the institute for regular follow-up.
As the nutrient needs of children with cancer vary from child to child, eating well during treatment helps the child to better tolerate treatment and treatment-related side effects. This also results in patients completing treatment as per schedule and faster recovery.
�It provides better strength and energy and lessens the risk of infection during treatment and helps maintain ideal weight and their body�s store of nutrients. It also helps normal growth and development with profound impact on the quality of life,� Dr Kataki said.
Similarly, care for terminally-ill patients is a major challenge for the doctors and support staff. Advanced cancer patients suffer from loss of weight due to reduced intake of food and many other disease-related factors.
All patients who require nutritional support will be provided 1 kg of milk powder and 1 kg of protein powder during the time of initiation of treatment, which may be repeated as per requirements. All interested donors can contribute a minimum of Rs 500 a year to keep this programme going.
�Nutrition is a basic human right and is conceived by the patients and their families as well as by the medical community and human society to be vital for survival. Every effort should be made by the care giver to provide nutritional support which has been seen to benefit competent patients by reducing physical deterioration, improving quality of life and preventing the emotional effect of �starving the patient to death�,� Dr Kataki added.
About 3,800 terminally-ill cancer patients report to BBCI every year, out of whom about 40 per cent require nutritional support.
Due to poverty and many other factors, many childhood cancer patients and terminally ill cancer patients do not have adequate financial resources for proper nutrition.
As per the World Health Organisation, one-third of all cancers can be prevented, one-third can be detected at an early stage and one-third of the patients will require palliative care for advanced stage disease.
In India, many patients report in the advanced stage disease due to illiteracy, poverty, fear and myths associated with cancer. Many of the commonly encountered cancers in Assam and other north-eastern States are amenable to prevention and early detection. Tobacco-related cancers account for 50 per cent of all cancers in male patients and 25 per cent of all cancers in female patients.
�To intensify the community oncology programme for public awareness and early detection of cancer, BBCI proposes to create a separate corpus fund with a minimum donation of Rs 500. Every citizen in the country can take the pride of contributing something for the society, which can give a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction,� Dr Kataki said.