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HCG­­- A name to be reckoned with in cancer care

👤Shalet James 🕔10-June-2013
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Known as South Asia’s largest cancer care network, Bengaluru-headquartered HealthCare Global Enterprises (HCG) Ltd was established in 2004. With more than 1,150 beds,350 oncologists and 2,500 plus staff, HCG presently has a network of 27 centres across the country. Here, BS Ajai Kumar, Chairman, HCG, speaks to Future Medicineabout the journeyof HCG in making a history in the world healthcare

By Shalet James

Recently, HCG has been recognised as the best place to work in healthcare. What makes the organisation achieve this status?  

HCG culture is fused with passion and empathy.We groom our employees in this culture and give them intense training in hospital activities and also help them develop communication skills. We have stringent guidelines for the appointment of employees as we give more importance to the employee’s attitude than qualification. As a cancer specialtycentre, there is a need to create a calm and friendly atmosphere in the hospital.We believe in empowering employees and give them the option to set their own standards provided they fulfill their goals. We respect everyone and encourage mutual respect. In HCG, no employee is inferior or superior.

Could you tell us about the new developments in the treatment of cancer?

In cancer care,we bring inthe latest advancements in therapy, research and technology. Today, we work in multidisciplinary clinic where patients are examined by radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and surgical oncologists. We have the equipment like IMRT,IGRT and cyber knife, one of the most advanced equipment used in the treatment of cancer. Molecules molecular imaging and MR spectroscopy scan are also used here. We have a pathology department with molecular diagnostics and when a patient comes for the treatment of breast cancer or colon cancer, we tell the patient what are the biomarkers that make this disease very aggressiveand how this disease is going to respond toa particular treatment orwhat type of treatment the patient should take. This makes the treatment apersonalized one.

Can a positive atmosphere help cancer patients lead a better life?

Yes. Cancer patients benefit a lot from the positive atmosphere. In my days of practice in the US,there were doctors who used to refer to the cancer patients as “Oh youunfortunate victim of cancer”. On hearing this statement, the patients lose all hopes in life. As cancer is a chronic disease, horrifying terms likefourth stage,advanced, palliation and terminal should never be used by oncologists. As doctors, we should learn to say that I will treat your disease. This very positive attitude of the doctors will bring about drastic changes in the cancer patients.I remember one of my patients in theUS who was suffering from bone cancer. She was in pain and left alone for her fatal destiny. This was when I got a chance to treat her. I explained to her that she is not in her last stage and I said we will be doing our best to treat her. This very pep talk gave her a motivation to live her life to the fullest and she decided to do all her favourite things.  All her wishes were facilitated by the hospital. After eight years, when I was in India, I got a call from the US that she is very sick and refusing to have any drugs. The next day, I reached there and told her not to give up but she only responded by thanking me for the eight beautiful years she lived with cancer. That night, she died in peace. This very incident makes me work hard for the happiness of my cancer patients.

What are the major reasons for cancer?

One of the major reasons is the fast food culture and lack of exercise. Breast cancer is mostly seen in urban women who are addicted to fatty foods. Another reason is genetic predisposition that is if a mother has cancer,the daughter may be more inclined to have cancer but can be prevented by good lifestyle. Yoga also helps reduce stress thereby manages cancer better.

Are you conducting cancer awareness programmes?

We have conducted over 1,000 camps in Mysore and Gundlupet in Karnataka andthe surrounding areas of Bengaluru.We are going to hold the largest camp in North Karnataka.

Expansion plans?

We are working on 20 projects which will soon be fulfilled.We are also planning a major project in South Delhi and three more Centres in Africa, including Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Nairobi in Kenya and Lagos in Nigeria.

What is your vision?

Our vision is to become leaders in oncology.When one gets cancer, he/she should think of HCG.

Major milestones
  • First to introduce Artiste with CT on rails in Asia
  • First to introduce cyber knife robotic radio surgery in India
  • First to introduce cyclotron and the only cGMPrecognised unit in India
  • First bone marrow transplant in Karnataka
  • First bloodless bone marrow transplant in Asia
  • Introduced to India the world’s most advanced MRI System–3 Tesla Skyra
  • First to use brain implants in India
  • First to introduce digital Mammogram ( 98 accuracy in diagnosing breast cancer)
  • First to introduce PET MRI in Asia
  • Only oncology network recognised by the pan African network connecting 54 countries

Born in August, 1951 in Bengaluru, Dr B S Ajai Kumar did his MBBS at St John's Medical College, Bengaluru during 1968- 73. In 1975, he joined the University of Virginia, Charlottesville,US. He did his fellowship in Radiation Oncology and Medical Oncology at the MD Anderson's Tumour Hospital and Institute, Houston, US.

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