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Dr V Shanta Who Made Cancer Treatments Affordable For Poor Passes Away At 94

Senior oncologist and chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute, Dr V Shanta passed away in the early hours of Tuesday at the age of 94. 

Dr V Shanta complained of discomfort and was taken to Apollo Hospital where she died at 3:55 AM after doctors failed to remove a block in a blood vessel.


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Dr V Shanta was known for her efforts for making cancer treatments better and affordable to the people of the nation. Her entire life was dedicated to the mission of organising care for cancer patients, while also conducting research on the disease and its cure.

Coming from the family of two Nobel Laureates

Born on March 11, 1927, in Mylapore, Chennai, Shanta belonged to a distinguished family that had two Nobel Laureates — C.V. Raman, renowned Indian physicist, who was her grand uncle and S. Chandrasekar, (an astrophysicist) who was her uncle

She completed her schooling from national Girls High School in Chennai and since childhood, she aspired to become a doctor. She completed her M.B.B.S. from Madras Medical College in 1948, D.G.O in 1952, followed by M.D in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1955. 

Dr V Shanta
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However, later when Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy founded the Cancer Institute, she joined in and devoted her life to the field of oncology. She started her work as an honorary staff and after three years, she was offered Rs 200 per month and a residence within the campus. She moved to the campus on April 13, 1955, and lived there for nearly 65 years till the end of her life.

While she strived to make cancer treatments affordable and accessible for all, including the poor, in her whole career, she has also been a strong advocate of early detection of cancer

Moreover, she has always been of the opinion that people must change the perception of cancer that induces extreme fear and hopelessness that’s associated with the disease and instead has asked patients to instil faith in medicine and treatment. 

Awards and recognitions

Dr V. Shanta was an elected fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences. She is a recipient of Padma Shri in 1986, Padma Bhushan in the year 2006 as well as Padma Vibhushan in 2016. She is also the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2005.

Dr V Shanta
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Expressing immense sadness on her passing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Dr. V Shanta will be remembered for her outstanding efforts to ensure top-quality cancer care. The Cancer Institute at Adyar, Chennai is at the forefront of serving the poor and downtrodden. I recall my visit to the Institute in 2018. Saddened by Dr V Shanta’s demise. Om Shanti.”



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