[REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE] Nearly 90,000 cancer cases have been reported in assam, the state health minister said. Pictured: Cancer patients Aryan Khan (front) and Areena Bibi (rear), 20, are pictured through a taxi window outside the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai April 2, 2013.Reuters

Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Mumbai in conjunction with the Maharashtra state government has launched a project called "Affordable Cancer Care for All" for the rural population across 24 districts of the state. The initiative is being funded by global pharma firm Mylan, the Daily News and Analysis reported.

The programme, which aims to enable better access to cancer treatment for people living in remote areas of the state, is likely to be implemented phase-wise. Under the project, a group of doctors, nurses and technicians would be trained at TMH and would then raise awareness on cancer, and its early detection in the various districts of the state.

Maharashtra has reported the second highest number of cancer cases in the country, JP Nadda, union health minister had said earlier this year.

TMH has already constituted a group of 57 doctors, called 'cancer warriors,' who will be a part of the awareness programme. "We have handpicked doctors who have studied at Tata and are now working in different districts of Maharashtra. They are committed to providing voluntary services for cancer prevention, awareness and treatment," Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck surgeon at TMH, was quoted by DNA as saying.

Chaturvedi told Indian Express that a short-term training with a duration of a few weeks will be provided to general surgeons and physicians at Tata Hospital. "Since these are rural doctors and their work should not suffer, we will keep the trainings short ," he added.

He said that the key is early detection of cancer. "This will also prevent cancer to enter advanced stage by when only palliative care remains an option," he was quoted by IE as saying.

In the second phase of the programme, the treatment protocol in advanced care stage as well as radiotherapy will be taught to doctors in the six districts of Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Amravati, Jalgaon and Gadchiroli.

According to union health ministry, the number of cancer cases in India has increased to 30,16,628 in 2014 from 28,54,451 in 2012, while the number of cancer deaths was up at 4,91,598 in 2014 from 4,65,169 in 2012. Nearly 3 lakh cancer cases were reported in the state of Maharashtra in 2014 alone.

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