Free online advice slip to cancer patients offers by Tata Memorial Hospital

Mumbai,Maitri Porecha: On browsing over the internet, Nancy came across the option of seeking online help on the TMH website. The doctors at TMH opined that conservative breast treatment without removal will be equally effective.


Sudhir Shetty dna

After 36-year-old Nagaland resident Nancy Ao (name changed) was detected with cancer, her doctor suggested removal of breasts for a cure. Nancy was shattered. She wanted to seek a second opinion from Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Parel, but had no money to travel over 3,000 kilometres to Mumbai.

“On browsing over the internet, Nancy came across the option of seeking online help on the TMH website. The doctors at TMH opined that conservative breast treatment without removal will be equally effective. Nancy did not have to undergo the ordeal of breast removal,” said a doctor from TMH.

Over the past one year, as a pilot based project, TMH has counseled up to 660 patients from across the world including countries — India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Russia, South Africa, Australia and United States.

TMH has tied up with Navya Network, a company founded by Harvard University’s Computer Science graduate Gitika Srivastava and Dr Naresh Ramrajan, to create a clinical decision system which processes patient data, structures it and provides treatment options which can be rapidly reviewed by the doctor to provide a final opinion. The online treatment opinion services provided by the hospital are currently free of cost and are available to the patient between 3 – 7 days at the most.

Over five years back, when Gitika’s 22-year-old brother was struck with cancer, she and her family faced immense trouble deciding the mode of right treatment. “This was not an easy process. It was nerve wrecking, frightening, and confusing. Opinions from three hospitals and multiple doctors were sought. This is how the idea of creating a computer-based decision making system for cancer was born,” said Srivastava.

Srivastava and doctors at TMH tied up to make the evidence-backed service available to harrowed patients and their kin. “Database on clinical trials and journal citations for various cancers are cataloged. While we primarily started for breast cancer, we have expanded to include database on lung, oral, prostrate, ovarian, cervical, neurology cancers as well as paediatric solid tumor cancers,” she said.

Dr Sudeep Gupta, professor, medical oncology at TMH said that seeking online opinion saves a lot of hassle for patients staying in remote areas of the country or abroad. “Nothing compared to the benefit that a patient accrues as s/he gets treatment opinion sitting in a remote area of say Assam or Odisha,” said Gupta.

Up to 10 lakh new cases of cancer are detected every year in India, whereas there are not more than 5,000 oncology experts in the country to treat them. “Our software has the capacity to process up to 8,000 cases annually and we are looking at scaling up our services,” said Srivastava.

How to go about it
Visit https://tmc.gov.in/ and click on option for ‘Online Treatment Opinion’ and you will be redirected to the website www.navyanetwork.com/tmh

Step 1 – You can register and upload scanned copies or images of your medical reports like clinical notes, biopsy, radiology, complete blood count, liver function test, post treatment notes, planned treatments. These reports are processed by the computer software to provide a complete summary of preferred treatments

Step 2 – Doctors will review the summary and review whether you need a chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery and will provide a personalised opinion

Step 3 – An expert opinion is provided on what further treatment and tests need to be conducted