Apollo Hospitals, which launched south Asia’s first proton centre for cancer therapy in Chennai, is planning to add two more such centres in different parts of the country, according to a senior official of the healthcare group. 

In January 2019, Apollo Hospitals launched a 150-bedded Apollo Proton Cancer Centre (APCC) at a cost of ₹1,300 crore to offer high precision proton therapy to cancer patients. The centre has treated over 1,000 cancer patients from more than 33 countries in the last four years. 

“We are looking to add two more (Proton) centres and we are looking to go beyond Chennai,” said Dinesh Madhavan, President, Group – Oncology & International, Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Ltd. 

He was speaking on the sidelines of an event on Friday to announce APCC’s exclusive partnership with Ion Beam Applications SA (IBA) to train clinicians on proton beam therapy. IBA is a Belgium-based manufacturer of advanced proton therapy systems. 

Madhavan, however, added that it is too early to comment more on the new proton centres since the decision will be based on the healthcare group’s strategy of getting into a particular geography and several other aspects. “But our vision is that we can have multi-centric proton centres in India,” he added. 

In recent years, Proton beam therapy has emerged as a highly effective and precise radiation treatment for various types of cancers. Under the therapy, protons are used for a targeted treatment of cancerous tumours without damaging the surrounding healthy tissues and lesser side effects. 

Earlier this year, Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Centre launched proton beam therapy, thereby becoming the first government healthcare institution to do so. Several private players are also entering the proton therapy space.

“For a population of six million, Singapore already has three proton centres. With India reaching 1.4 billion in population, we need 14-15 proton centres,” Madhavan said and added that both private and public healthcare providers should add more proton centres. 

Elaborating on the latest tie-up with IBA, Madhavan said, proton cancer centres have now come in Thailand and Singapore while countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are also in the process of setting up.

“All these countries would like to come to a country which has got a more heterogeneous experience. “So, we decided to create a proton therapy training school in partnership with IBA and APCC, where physicians, technologists and oncologists can come for the training.”