Northeast Oncology Summit (NEOS 2023) Local Challenges – Global Solutions in Cancer Care

03 February 2023

The first annual Northeast Oncology Summit was convened by Assam Cancer Care Foundation (ACCF) at Tezpur and hosted by Tezpur Cancer Centre – a unit of ACCF in association with National Society for Medical Oncologists, Indian Society of Medical and Pediatric Oncology (ISMPO). The two-day event was held at Tezpur Convention Centre on February 03 and 04, concluding on World Cancer Day, reflecting the theme of “Closing Care Gap” in Oncology.

In continuation with the efforts by Government of Assam and the Tata Trusts to change the demographics of cancer incidence and survival in Northeast India, ACCF - with all its oncologists, faculty from Northeast and with representation BBCI and SCI - concluded successfully the first ever Northeast Oncology Summit, NEOS 2023. The summit - symbolically conducted in the hinterland with a theme of ‘Local Challenges and Global Solutions’, is an attempt to draw the attention of pioneers in the field of oncology to focus on the high incident rate of cancers in Northeast and discuss their perspectives, opinions and suggestions.

Northeast has the highest incidence of cancer in India with three times the national average incidence of cancer, accounting for 170 cancer cases for every 1 lakh population. In Assam, the population of Kamrup Urban has the highest risk of developing cancers - as per the data of NCDIR-ICMR, with an uptrend of incidence in almost all cancers. Constant efforts and approaches are on trial by ACCF since the operations begun in April 2022, to deal with the burden. NEOS is an endeavour to come together on a common platform and discuss the unique challenges in delivering treatment in periphery - where the awareness about cancer is low, logistical constraints and misconceptions about the disease and treatment are high. Other NEOS programmes were panel discussions, debates for exercising standard of care along with learning about the latest advances in cancer care and how to adapt them for practice in hinterlands. Faculty from premier institutes like CMC Vellore, Tata Memorial Hospital Mumbai and AIIMS, New Delhi had participated in the programme.

The Conference has comprehensively covered the most important aspects about the four most common cancers in Assam - Esophageal, Gall Bladder, Breast and Head and Neck cancers. Keynote lectures were delivered by National Faculty, who were pioneers and established oncology institutions and trained hundreds of Oncologists. Few of the topics were on how to integrate the fast paced research into useful clinical applications on bed side; how the team of physicians and Gynaecologists should work together to control the cancer by 2030; and how to identify the causative factors of gall bladder cancer in Assam - a hot spot in entire world. Workshops were conducted in Radiology, Pathology and Cervical cancer elimination by 2030: WHO Goals. Panel discussions on the case scenarios and palliative care sessions were also conducted.

The most interesting and innovative aspect of NEOS was a session on Cancer Advocacy, which covered the Perspectives of Cancer Survivors, their families and even the families who lost their family members to cancer. This is the first conference in Northeast to invite patients and families - to listen to their views, opinions and suggestions. In the same session, the role of media, NGOs were discussed by media personnel and NGOs who were working in close association with ACCF. This was highly appreciated by oncology community of Northeast as well as National Faculty for bringing in the new perspective.

Research papers were submitted from various medical college students and PG trainees from Assam, Karnataka and Delhi. The best papers were awarded in the conference.

The Cancer Care Day on February 4 was observed in the conference. Concluding NEOS 2023, Assam Cancer Care Foundation pledged to close the care gap by uniting the voices and taking action.

Programme Highlights

 -Keynote Lectures

- Workshops

- Research papers were invited and awarded from Post Graduate students

- Patient Advocacy session: Survivors, families stories heard directly from them

- Role of Media and NGO’s highlighted in creating awareness

- SMART Pink free mammography screening camp discussed

- Project Soundarya, to provide wigs and Padded Bras to breast cancer afflicted patients, to uplift the women’s dignity and encourage the treatment completion, was launched by ACCF

- ACCF pledged to close the Care Gap, in all fronts of Cancer Care delivery