Cancer could be biggest health challenge in India

cancerCancer could emerge as the biggest public health challenge in India, with cases projected to double in 20 years. India records a high mortality with seven lakh dying every year due to it.
Breast cancer is the most common for women in India, with World Health Organisation statistics showing India records the most deaths due to breast cancer annually. In 2012, 70,000 Indian women died due to breast cancer, while in China it was 47,000. The use of genomics could help check the high death rate associated with breast cancer. 
This high mortality could be reduced with the use of new genomic tests based on next generation sequencing, recently available in India. Compared to conventional tests, which only look at two to three genes, these new genomic tests can look at 1,000 genes. Genomics testing for cancer offers clear advantages over conventional methods. By more accurately predicting drug response, it improves a patient’s survival chance by helping a doctor select the optimal treatment regime.
Dr P K Julka, dean of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, said, “cancer is a heterogeneous disease and every patient is different. It is driven by genetic alterations with some patients harboring mutations, while some have amplifications.” He said genomic profiling helps determine “driver mutations”, helping doctors with valuable information for selecting the most appropriate treatment.
Positive Bioscience has launched the Positive Times Campaign to provide easier access to cutting-edge gene tests for breast cancer patients. The campaign launched in October, besides garnering support from oncologists, provides genomic testing for breast cancer at a subsidized cost until December 2014. 
Positive Bioscience recently partnered with Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hosptial, to launch Mumbai’s first Personal Genomics clinic. The clinic focuses on disease prevention for healthy individuals. Using genomics, the test identifies an individual’s risk to getting diseases like cancer, heart diseases and diabetes. Once risks have been identified, disease prevention measures are given to each client. Personal genomics can reduce risks for heart conditions by up to 30%.
Hospital chairperson Tina Ambani said, “We feel proud to launch this cutting-edge technology for personal genomics at our hospital as an initiative of preventive healthcare. I am looking forward to map my own personal genomics and use it as road map to monitor my future health needs.”


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