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The National Cancer Institute was established in 1956 as the radiotherapy department of the General Hospital, Colombo, Sri Lanka. It started functioning as an independent hospital for cancer care under the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka in 1980. With expansion, the capacity, resources and technology of the hospital developed and it is now an 850 bedded institute providing total cancer care including pain and palliative care.
In August 2015, the palliative care service was established as an outpatient clinic supported by volunteer-based health staff including consultant oncologists, medical officers and nursing staff who were working in the National Cancer Institute. In 2017, it developed as a separate palliative care unit with one permanent nursing officer and with the continued support of volunteer staff. With the expansion of the palliative care service, more trained medical and nursing staff joined the unit. Currently our unit is equipped with six medical officers who have completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Palliative Medicine and five trained nursing officers. They work under the guidance of five consultant clinical oncologists who are specialist trainers in palliative care.


The National Cancer Institute in Maharagama is the main tertiary referral cancer center in Sri Lanka, where specialized oncological treatments are provided. It is a government-funded institute consisting of adult oncological units with 542 beds, paediatric oncological units with 145 beds, oncosurgical units with 88 beds, an onco gynaecological unit with 41 beds, and haemato oncological units with 71 beds. In addition, it has a number of units offering chemotherapy, radiotherapy, bone marrow transplantation, radiology, blood transfusion, pain management, palliative care, psychological counselling and spiritual support, social development, nutritional support, as well as a physiotherapy and rehabilitation unit.
Holistic compassionate patient centered care is provided by the multidisciplinary team.


The National Cancer Institute (Apeksha Hospital) is the prime center for
cancer care in Sri Lanka. The multidisciplinary team provides comprehensive, compassionate, patient focused care, with all medical services being provided free of charge.
Our services available for cancer patients include; chemotherapy, hormonal treatment, immunotherapy and targeted therapy, external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy and radioisotope therapy, diagnostic radiology investigations, interventional radiology procedures, oncological surgery, onco gynaecological surgery, ENT surgery, bone marrow transplantation, physiotherapy care, speech therapy, nutritional support, multidisciplinary care planning of cancer treatments, pain management, social developmental support, and psychological and spiritual counselling.

Palliative and Supportive Care


The palliative care unit provides referral based consultative service for both adult and paediatric patients through an outpatient clinic, inward care, and a hotline service. Holistic, compassionate, interdisciplinary care is provided to the patients and their families.

  • Pain and other intractable symptom management are done according to the latest guidelines. We work in collaboration with pain management unit in managing complex pain and initiating interventional pain procedures.
  • All the nursing procedures are provided.
  • The initial assessment of the psychological issues is recognized, and timely referrals are arranged to the counselling and psychiatric unit.
  • The social problems are addressed, and social services, financial support and family empowerment are provided via social service officer and non-governmental organizations.
  • Spiritual support is also encouraged.
  • Shared care is arranged in collaboration with the oncology units. Home-based care is provided with the support of public health nursing officers. We provide care at the hospice too.
  • This centre is the prime centre for training of undergraduates and postgraduate doctors, nurses, and other allied health workers.

Last update: August 2022


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