Why diagnostics may be the most important weapon in the fight against cancer.

We have reached a pivotal—and problematic—point in the global cancer war.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), there were 17 million new cancer cases and 9.5 million cancer deaths in 2018i.

More than half of the cancer deaths worldwide are estimated to occur in Asia, in part because the region has nearly 60% of the global population1.

As we consider this grim picture, it raises a critical question: How will we meet the challenge that cancer poses to future generations? 

Expanding the Role of Diagnostics 

According to the World Health Organization, most cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries with limited access to testing and screening3. To tackle this problem, Roche has launched several initiatives.

In Asia Pacific, we introduced our digital pathology solution to address the need for quicker and more accurate diagnosis. By giving pathologists the confidence to make decisions, we are helping patients get one step closer to the right treatment at the right time.  

Roche has also partnered with C/Can on the City Cancer Challenge - multi-sector initiative in Yangon, Myanmar. Working with local health authorities and hospitals, we’ve strengthened laboratory services by providing education and technical support, implementing a Laboratory Information Management System and helping to upgrade existing pathology, clinical laboratory and transfusion services.

Ushering in a New Era

Perhaps the most promising cancer-fighting weapon to emerge in recent years has come in the form of molecular and genomic science.

At Roche, we are leveraging personalised diagnostics to tailor cancer treatments to each patient’s molecular profile. This allows us to not only identify candidates for clinical trials but also to predict and monitor patients’ responses to treatment. 

Gone are the days when the diagnostic phase was concluded once the disease was identified. Now, diagnostics play a critical role in prognosis, treatment, monitoring and more.

As we delve deeper into personalised medicine, the gap between diagnostics and treatment will continue to close. As it does, it will be incumbent upon us all to ensure that the tools and technologies of our field are leveraged to their full potential.

Because in the world of cancer care, the more questions we answer, the more lives we save.

References

i Bray, F. et al. 2018. Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 68(6), 394-424.

*The information contained in this article was extracted from Edition 2019, Vol 6.

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