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Dr V Shanta, renowned cancer care specialist, dies at 93

Chairperson of Cancer Institute in Chennai, Dr Shanta's many contributions to the field included the first cancer registry in the country

In this undated photo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets renowned oncologist and chairperson of the Adyar Cancer Institute Dr V Shanta. Shanta passed away at the age of 93 on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI01_19_2021_000034B) (PTI)

Chennai, Jan 19 (PTI): Renowned oncologist and chairperson of the Cancer Institute in Chennai, Dr V Shanta, who is noted for her outstanding contribution to cancer care died early on Tuesday. She was 93.

Sources at the Cancer Institute said Dr Shanta was rushed to hospital after she complained of chest pain last night at about 9 pm. She had a massive block, which could not be removed. Her died around 3.55 am., said a senior oncologist at the institute. Her body was moved to the old Cancer Institute premises, which she helped to build.

Dr Shanta's work won several awards, including the Magsaysay Award, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan. She was active till the time of her hospitalisation. During the pandemic, she had expressed concern about the new challenges to healthcare that was brought on by the lockdown, the institute said.

Lauding Dr Shanta as a doyen of cancer care, Dr Ananda Raja of the institute said, "She may have passed away but her work lives on forever." Hailing from a family of Nobel laureates—Sir CV Raman and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar— Shanta graduated (MBBS) in 1949, DGO in 1952 and MD in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1955. In April 1955, she joined the fledgling Cancer Institute, established in 1954 by the Women's Indian Association Cancer Relief Fund, as its Resident Medical Officer in preference to the Assistant Surgeon's Post in the Women & Children's Hospital, Chennai, to which she had been selected by the Madras Public Service Commission.

Dr Shanta played an important role, along with Dr Krishnamurthi, in developing the Cancer Institute from a cottage hospital of 12 beds to a major comprehensive Cancer Centre of national and international stature. Dr Venkatraman Radhakrishnan, Medical and pediatric oncologist said duty exemption for cancer drugs, free travel for cancer patients in trains and buses, and making cancer a notifiable disease in Tamil Nadu were among her numerous achievements.

Dr Shanta was also the force behind the first cancer registry in India, and pioneered in several aspects including initiating the first screening programme in India for cancer besides establishing the frst pediatric oncology unit at the institute, he said.

"She also started pediatric oncology as a speciality in India and helped significantly in progress of the specialty. The first pediatric oncology unit in India was established in Cancer Institute in 1960. She was the first pediatric oncologist in India," he added. PTI JSP VGN ROH ROH

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