By Waliur Rahman
BBC correspondent in Dhaka
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has laid the foundation stone of the nation's first fully-fledged cancer hospital in the capital, Dhaka.
Experts say 200,000 Bangladeshis suffer new cancers each year
The country has an estimated one million cancer patients and about 150,000 die each year.
According to medical experts, only 2% of patients have access to cancer units around the country.
The new $15m hospital will have an initial 160 beds, rising to 500 by the year 2007.
Experts say that every year, another 200,000 people develop some form of cancer - mostly lung cancer and leukaemia.
Most patients die without being properly diagnosed or receiving adequate medical treatment.
So the Dhaka Ahsania Mission undertook a project to set up the modern hospital in Dhaka.
"We aim to provide quality treatment to cancer patients, especially the poor ones," said Kazi Rafiqul Alam of the non-governmental organisation.
The hospital will have the latest technology, including medical, surgical and radiation oncology as well as a diagnostic centre for histopathology, endoscopy, colonoscopy and bronchoscopy.
Mr Alam said Bangladesh had no cancer hospital with the necessary equipment, except for the National Cancer Research Institute, which could treat only 50 patients at a time.
The affluent go to India and other south-east Asian countries for treatment.
"Cancer patients spend an estimated $83m annually for treatment abroad due to inadequate facilities in the country," Mr Alam said.
The cost for treatment in the Ahsania Mission hospital will be 20% less than any cancer hospital in India, he said.
The NGO has already started collecting money for the hospital through contributions from the public.
It launched an appeal through two national newspapers a few months back.