Health & Fitness

New cancer test machine cuts diagnostic costs

cancer centre
A doctor attends to a patient at a cancer centre in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Medical laboratory services firm, Lancet Group has acquired a new cancer test machine that will help cut diagnostic costs by about Sh50,000.

“With the new machine we currently charge Sh30,000 for the tests whereas before they would cost over Sh80,000 when sent abroad. Also, results are now available in two hours compared to the two weeks when sent out,” said Dr Ahmed Kalebi of Lancet Group of Laboratories.

Previously test samples were shipped out mainly to South Africa, Europe and India and it took up to three weeks before patients got results.

The IDYLLA lab machine 0is designed to offer physicians fast access to highly reliable clinical molecular diagnostic information, anywhere and anytime.

“The main cancers tested include lung cancer, colon cancer and melanoma (a form of skin cancer), as the genetic markers if positive allow specific medicines that target those genetic changes. Because these medicines are very expensive going up to hundreds of thousands of shillings per dose, it is very important to confirm the presence of these mutations before the drugs can be given,” said Dr Kalebi.

The medicine and the dosage patients receive to cure their disease is precisely tailored to their symptoms resulting in very few side effects and a good chance of survival and even cure.

He said that the test can be done on tissue biopsy samples obtained through surgery, or on blood samples which are often referred to as liquid biopsies.

Molecular testing and liquid biopsy are new concepts in the diagnosis and management of cancer that provide powerful tools for better treatment unlike in the past when the new generation of targeted therapy where not available.

The new technologies have only been approved internationally in the last three years, and Kenya is among the first countries in Africa to have these technologies.