Geographic and demographic distribution and access to brachytherapy in India with its implications on cancer care

Abhishek Krishna, Athiyamaan MS, Challapalli Srinivas, Sourjya Banerjee, Johan Sunny, Dilson Lobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Geographic access to medical care varies for nearly every specialty in India. Given the special nature of its treatments, which sometimes necessitate numerous visits over a lengthy period, and the substantial-high fixed cost infrastructure requirements for radiation facilities, radiation oncology is particularly prone to regional inequities in access to care. Brachytherapy (BT) is emblematic of several of these access difficulties since it necessitates specialized equipment, the capacity to maintain a radioactive source, and particular skill sets. The study was conducted to report the availability of BT treatment units in relation to state-level population, overall cancer incidence, and gynecologic cancer incidence. Methods and Materials: The availability of BT resources at the state level in India was and the population of each state was estimated using data from the Government of India's Census. The number of cancer cases was approximated for each state and union territory. The total number of gynecological cancers that required BT was determined. The BT infrastructure was also compared to those of other nations in terms of the number of BT units available per million people and for various malignancies. Results: A heterogeneous geographic distribution of BT units was noted across India. India has one BT unit for every 42,93,031 population. The maximum deficit was seen in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Odisha. Among the states having BT units, the maximum units per 10,000 cancer patients was noted in Delhi (7), Maharashtra (5) and Tamil Nadu (4) and the least was noted in the Northeastern states (<1), Jharkhand, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. In BT of gynecological malignancies alone an infrastructural deficit ranging from 1 to 75 units were noted across the states. It was noted that only 104 out of the 613 medical colleges in India had BT facilities. On comparing the BT infrastructure status with other countries India had one BT machine for every 4,181 cancer patients when compared to United States (1 every 2,956 patients), Germany (2,754 patients), Japan (4,303 patients), Africa (10,564) and Brazil (4,555 patients). Conclusion: The study identified the deficits of BT facilities in terms of geographic and demographic aspects. This research provides a roadmap for the development of BT infrastructure in India.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-561
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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