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HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

Detecting risks before it’s too late

Rhythma Kaul, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 16, 2013
First Published: 02:35 IST(16/9/2013) | Last Updated: 03:05 IST(16/9/2013)

Advances in medical science have ensured that people get the best of medical care right at their door step.

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Gone are the days when samples needed to be sent all the way either to the United States or Europe for certain specialised tests and it would be weeks before you got to know the result.

Indian hospitals and standalone laboratories are coming up with testing facilities or are tying up with the best names globally nowadays to bring the most advanced diagnostic techniques within the reach of millions in the country, and that too at comparatively lower rates.

Be it detecting the level of risk a patient is at for a particular disease, or helping zero in on the most effective cancer drug for a patient, or having a healthy disease-free embryo in a safer and faster manner during an in vitro fertilization process, there are diagnostic tests within your reach to make your life easier.

New Delhi’s Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute (RGCI) along with Star Health Network, Inc. recently announced providing the facility of molecular tumour profiling tests from the Yale School of Medicine.

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This diagnostic technology genetically tests an individual’s cancerous tumour that helps in the delivery of high quality, personalised precision medicine.

Pathologists at Yale will perform DNA analysis of a patient’s tumour and provide the report within a week or so.

“This is what we call targeted therapy – giving only those drugs that are known to work specifically for their kind of cancer based on the profile of the tumour,” said Dr AK Dewan, medical director, RGCI. 

Though these tests are not predictive, as was the case with Hollywood actor Anjelina Jolie whose gene test predicted her to be high-risk for breast cancer, these are helpful in getting better treatment outcome in cancer patients.

Taking a step ahead in their fight against cancer, New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital also launched this year a comprehensive cancer genetic service to identify cancer disposing genes.

“We offer these highly specialised tests for nearly half the price. There are very few labs that offer such specialized tests in India,” said Dr IC Verma, director of the hospital’s department of genetics.    

It may cost up to a couple of lakhs for certain tests to be done abroad, which could be done well under one lakh in Indian laboratories.  

“This would mean more number of high-risk people will afford to get these tests done, paving way for preventive measures,” said Dr Verma.

Genetic testing is available for genes that cause cancer of breast, ovaries, colon, eyes (retinoblastoma), brain, sarcomas, thyroid, pancreas, kidneys, prostate and leukemias/ lymphomas, etc.

Advanced genetic screening methods are also helpful in couples planning a baby through in vitro fertilisation (IVF).  Accurate genetic screening of a healthy disease-free embryo means no more hits and-trial methods.  

Iviomics, experts in genetic testing globally, recently introduced an array of genetic tests in India, including endometrial receptivity array (ERA) technique in its Delhi lab to determine the exact time of transfer of embryo into the uterus.

This reduces the number of IVF cycles the couple has to undergo and therefore reduces the cost and trauma of miscarriage.

In couples with recurrent miscarriages, 80% of the embryos are chromosomally abnormal and up to 15% patients have all the embryos which are chromosomally abnormal.

“We offer advanced genetic diagnosis all over the world. With the first-of-its kind new laboratory, we are bringing globally tested revolutionary techniques to India,” said David Jimenez, CEO, Iviomics.

Quiz: cancer symptoms in women

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