National

Why Namakkal is on India’s cancer-care map

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on July 14, 2021

Saravana Rajamanickam

TN town’s Thangam Cancer Center offers affordable, cutting-edge treatment

Namakkal in Tamil Nadu is largely known as a poultry and truck transport hub. Also called Egg City, as it is India’s largest egg producing region, this small town in the Kongu belt of the State is an unlikely place for a cutting-edge cancer hospital that offers life-saving surgeries and chemotherapy.

But Thangam Cancer Center (TCC), founded in Namakkal in 2013 by a group of oncologists,who worked at Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), has put the town on the cancer-care map of India. The hospital has already done 3,800 surgeries and 15,000 chemotherapy cycles.

Fifty-one-year-old Shanthi (name changed), who was treated for endometrial cancer at Thangam, says she was surprised that she could get the best treatment at an affordable cost without having to travel to a metro.

Exponential rise in footfall

“We have been seeing an exponential rise in cancer patient footfall every year in the past four years,” says K Saravana Rajamanickam, Managing Director of TCC. TCC is an offshoot of Thangam Hospital, founded 40-year ago as a healthcare centre in Namakkal by Saravana’s father, R Kulandaivel, also a doctor.

Built at an investment of ₹52 crore, TCC has 100 beds exclusively for cancer treatment, which will be ramped up to 150 soon. It has 10 cancer specialists who have dedicated themselves to the ‘site-based’ treatment of the Big C. These 10 specialists include Saravana, his two younger brothers, Deepan and Karthick, and others who worked at Tata Memorial with Saravana.

Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, who hails from the same region and studied with Saravana’s father, inaugurated TCC’s new facilities a few months ago. “He was happy that the alumni from the TMH set up the cancer-care centre in his home district and recorded his appreciation for the team and the centre’s infrastructure,” recalls Saravana.

TCC, which provides treatment for lung, breast, gastrointestinal and gynaecological cancers, employs 180 nurses and allied health professionals to manage the patients.

The biggest pain for cancer patients is the waiting period at hospitals. In some cases, patients die in the interim between the consultation and commencement of treatment. “We strive to give a plan to a patient in 24 hours to decrease anxiety and to prevent delay in treatment initiation. Healthcare delay is one of the most difficult aspects to manage,” says Saravana.

‘Not-for-profit’

TCC’s motto is “Personalised & Affordable” — the idea is to position Thangam in between a government set-up and a corporate hospital. “Our costs are only a third of established cancer hospitals in metros. In fact, we even offer Robotic Cancer Surgery at a fraction of the cost of top corporate hospitals. We are a not-for-profit organisation,” emphasises Saravana.

No wonder, TCC is attracting patients from far-flung places in the country, as well as from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.

TCC is providing treatment for lung, breast, gastrointestinal and gynaecological cancers

Published on July 13, 2021

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