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December 14, 2018

Blood test will soon make cancer detection easier

Public health officers collect blood sample./FILE
Public health officers collect blood sample./FILE

Cancer detection will soon be made easier with the help of a liquid biopsy test that can tell if you have cancer or not.

The test will be available in the market on May 28.

Since cancer has no visible symptoms, this technology will be beneficial to Kenya, where 80 per cent of all diagnosis are detected late.

This blood based test known as discover liquid biopsy can also be used to track mutations of cancer genes as result of its resistance to medication.

“Our tests basically looks for circulating tumor DNA in the blood as opposed to its predecessor that requires doctors to get a tissue sample from the circulating tumor.” CEO of Massive genomics Bramuel Mwiti told The Star during an interview.

Mwiti says the test can be used in establishing the exact genetic mutation of one’s tumor, monitor one’s treatment to see if the patient’s tumor is responding well to the therapy and can also be applied for therapy selection purposes which is aimed to clearing the genetic mutation by personalising the treatment regime for the patient.

“Our test can also be used to tell a patient if you have cancer or not. We cannot however cannot predict that you are going to get cancer at some point in your life. This is because cancer is not like any other disease. It takes eight years to develop in other parts of the body and cannot kill you instantly.” Mwiti added.

Once a blood sample has been collected, the patients will get his/her results in ten days as opposed to four weeks when a tissue sample is collected. 

The test will cost the patient Sh70,000.  

Data from the Kenya Economic Survey shows cancer if the third leading cause of death in the country.

Cancer patients have cited the cost of treating cancer as one of the most burdening to them, with quite a number of them opting to travel to India to seek affordable treatment. 

A study done by researchers from the John Hopkins University with collaboration from Australian scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute noted that the test can be used to detect the presence of eight common cancers by sensing tiny amounts of DNA and proteins released into the bloodstream from cancer cells.

The eight include; ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, esophageal, bowel, lung and breast cancers.

The study was published in January in the Science Journal. 

However Mwiti says their tests can be able to detect all types of cancers as well as improve its management. 

Kenya will be the third country to roll out this technology after South Africa and Tunisia. 

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