India’s childhood leukaemia survival rate leaps to 80%, thanks to Manchester scheme

University of Manchester |June 2019 | India’s childhood leukaemia survival rate leaps to 80%, thanks to Manchester scheme

A paediatrician from the University of Manchester, Professor Vaskar Saha has helped cure children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) by 15% during the five years he has led the ICICLE (Indian Childhood Collaborative Leukaemia Group) clinical project, in partnership with Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata.


Survival rates of most cancers in India are usually 15-25% lower than the United Kingdom. However, with Professor Saha’s work challenging the stereotype that cancer cure is a prerogative of affluent nations, his research has increased survival rates in Kolkata from 65% in 2014 to 80% in 2019.

Vaskar Saha, Professor of Paediatric Oncology at The University of Manchester and Senior Paediatric Consultant and Director of Translational Cancer Research at the Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, said: “In the UK, 450 children are diagnosed annually with ALL, of which 400 will survive. In India, 9,000 of the 15,000 children diagnosed annually will survive.

“Not so long ago, four in ten Indian children would die because of poor treatment and relapse. The former was mainly due to the absence of standardisation in testing and treatment.

“If we can improve outcomes in India by 10%, then an additional 1,500 children a year grow up to lead normal lives.”

Professor Saha divides his time between Manchester and Tata Medical Centre

Before the ICICLE project launched, excellent medical centres across India were common and most children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia were able to get the drugs they needed.

Historically, hospitals in India often work in isolation without exposure to the international research community. Travel costs to faraway hospitals were also difficult for poor families or those on low incomes.

Once clinicians started sharing their knowledge and standardised systems were put in place, change began to take root. (Source: University of Manchester)

Read the full story from the University of Manchester India’s childhood leukaemia survival rate leaps to 80%, thanks to Manchester scheme


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