Radiation Oncology in India: Challenges and Opportunities

Semin Radiat Oncol. 2017 Apr;27(2):158-163. doi: 10.1016/j.semradonc.2016.11.007. Epub 2016 Nov 14.


Rising cancer incidence and mortality in India emphasize the need to address the increasing burden of this disease and the stark inequities in access to radiotherapy and other essential medical treatments. State-of-the-art technology is available within the private sector and a few hospitals in the public sector, but 75% of patients in the public sector in India do not have access to timely radiotherapy. This inequity in access to radiotherapy in the public sector is amplified in rural areas, where most of India׳s population lives. A long-term government commitment to machine purchase and human resource development in the public sector is needed to improve access. A number of innovative initiatives to improve cancer treatment and access have emerged that could support such an investment. These include local production of equipment, twinning programs between institutions in high- and low-income countries to exchange knowledge and expertise, and nongovernmental and state-sponsored schemes to sponsor and support patients in their cancer journey. Strengthening of cancer registries and regulatory bodies with authority to enforce minimum standards is also required to improve care. The more uniform and frequent availability of high-quality radiotherapy can improve cancer outcomes and may be regarded as a marker of a comprehensive and equitable system of health care delivery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Private Sector
  • Public Sector
  • Radiation Oncology* / organization & administration