…As Me Cure Unveils Cancer Diagnosis Machine
As the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified cancer as the second leading cause of death around the globe, responsible for 70 per cent of deaths in low- and middle-income countries, which is more than the number of deaths from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, experts have urged oncologists to treat cancer scientifically as early as possible in order to increase the survival rate and reduce mortality from the disease.
Speaking during a media facility tour of Me Cure Healthcare Oncology Centre in Lagos, Forhad Hossain, manager, Cyclotron & PET – CT, Me Cure Cancer Centre, said early detection of cancer ensures better prognosis and reduces mortality, adding that if PET- CT is done on time and cancer detected early, patients can achieve a near 100 per cent cure because treatment is done accurately.
According to Hossain, the latest solutions to the challenge of cancer is anatomic imaging of Computed Tomography (CT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) technologies that allow for the visualisation of cellular metabolism activity, saying with the new technology, clinicians will be able to evaluate earlier whether a treatment is working, and tailor an appropriate therapy regimen according to patients’ unique needs, bringing an entirely new level of healthcare technology in the fight against cancer.
Corroborating Hossain on the usefulness of PET-CT, a Consultant Radiologist for Me Cure, Dr Durojaiye Adeuja, described the new machine as a landmark achievement for Nigeria and West Africa as it improves the diagnostic quality of managing all cancers.
He said PET-CT has more advantages over others because it doubles the diagnostic quality with a combination of PET and CT as a whole. “So if you are infusing both, PET itself help to identify functionality while the CT identify the morphology, the structure as it were. If you now combine both there is an advantage because you are able to pick what is current, what is normal, you are able to pick what is residual. You are able to pick what is reoccurring, you are able to pick what is progressing or what is actually regressing or remission.
“Essentially, it is like you are using two parameters to evaluate a single variable which means, you are improving the specificity of your diagnosis and PET also increases the sensitivity of the diagnosis. In furtherance, we are able to tell the managing physician what we have seen and it is getting better or less. It also covers the advantage of being able to pick problems that were not detected.
He continued, “The procedure does not take so much time. In about 5 minutes to go through the machine and the diagnosis is done. It is not invasive and the patient is in a relaxed position and in about 5 minutes is done. It is a watershed development or process because we improve our management of cancer patients. It covers all ages. PET is a whole-body machine. It starts scanning from the head to the face, nose, mouth down to the neck, abdomen and scan down to the pelvis and thighs.
While speaking, the Chairman, Me Cure Healthcare Limited, Mr Samir Udani, said it was unfortunate that most cancer cases were detected at late stages in Nigeria, adding that no fewer than 125,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Nigeria annually.
According to Me Cure boss, the firm had unveiled a PET- CT scan machine to detect cancer cells even before they manifest as cancer in the body. “The PET- CT increases the survival rate of patients, in that, with the radioactive tracer drug used for PET scan and non-ionizing drugs used for CT scan, injected into the patient, we can accurately detect where the cancer is, thereby helping the doctor to decide the best treatment option for the patient.
“During the cause of treatment, the PET- CT can help to detect if the treatment being given to the patient is working or not. Six months after the treatment, the machine can help to detect if cancer has been completely treated or if there are some cancerous cells still remaining in the body.”
Speaking further, Udani said physicians should change the narrative in the treatment of cancer by taking support of science in treating cancer. “Let’s give the third eyes which are PET-CT to the physicians so that scientifically cancer can be treated on time, as the world is changing fast with technologies changing as well, adding that there was no substitute to PET- CT which was why Me Cure invested in it to promote early detection and cure.
Udani explained that the PET- CT machine project was valued at about $40 million. The dynamics of the equipment was based on radiopharmaceutical or radiotracers injected into the patient’s body. “PET uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers or radiopharmaceuticals, a special substance and a computer to evaluate organ and tissue functions. These radiopharmaceuticals cannot be imported because in two hours it loses half of their potency. Without these drugs, PET-CT is not possible.”
He regretted that despite the importance of the PET-CT machine, Nigeria is just talking of the first in West Africa while countries like Egypt, has 60 of it.
Noting that cancer is a social problem and a burden on the nation’s economy, Udani disclosed that the machine will be operational in Nigeria from February 15th, 2022, adding that with N495, 000. a patient will get treated with a PET-CT machine in their centre unlike in the US where the cost is as high as $3,500, and in Kenya, $800.
Speaking earlier, Dr Kunle Megbuwawon, the chief strategist of Me Cure Healthcare, described the facility as a way to give back to Nigerians.
“On average, if you will need to do a PET-CT abroad, it is about 10,000 dollars including cost of travels, accommodation, feeding etc, and most cancer patients will need about three, which means they will need not less than $30,000. So if you get it less than 1,000 dollars it is a big achievement for Nigeria and West Africa. We are happy we are able to have this and the rate of survival will actually increase,” he added.
He said cancer treatment is expensive anywhere in the world and that the healthcare group is working towards collaborating with the government, NGOs and organisations to provide treatment for indigent patients living with.