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The East African : Oct 27th 2014
34 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK OCTOBER 25-31,2014 S CI E N C E New test for ovarian cancer developed The test is designed to distinguish accu≥ately between benign cysts and malignant tumou≥s By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent A new test to screen for ovarian cancer has been developed. The new test, called ADNEX, if confirmed in clinical trials, could become a routine screening procedure for women worldwide. It was developed by University of Leuven and Imperial College London scientists to help doctors detect the cancer early and help the patient get the right surgical treatment. According to the researchers, the test is designed to distinguish accurately between benign cysts and malignant tumours as well as identify how aggressive the tumours are. The test uses a combination of pa- tient information, blood test results and ultrasound scans to predict the malignancy, type and stage of the cancer. Doctors can therefore use the test in a clinical database or by entering the patient’s details into a smartphone app “If a tumour is benign, a woman may not need any treatment at all. If it is malignant, you need to know what type of tumour it is to choose the best treatment and that treatment needs to be carried out by a specialist gynaecological cancer surgeon,” say the researchers in their report published in the British Medical Journal. The current screening methods used to assess women with ovarian cysts for the presence of cancer and select treatment lack accuracy. “This new approach to classify- ing ovarian tumours can help doctors make the right management decisions. It will also reduce the likelihood of women with all types of cysts having excessive or unnecessary treatment that may impact on their fertility,” said Tom Bourne the lead study researcher and a professor at the Imperial College, A diagram of ovarian cancer at the third stage. Picture: File London. Successful ovarian cancer treat- ment depends in part on accurately identifying the type of tumour, but this can be difficult. As a result, many women with cancer are not sent to the right specialist surgeon, or those with a benign cyst may have a more serious operation than needed. Apart from the tumour type, the choice of treatment sometimes has to take into account implications for the woman’s fertility. “Existing prediction models dis- criminate between benign and malignant tumours but lack accuracy and don’t sub-classify malignant This new approach to classifying ovarian tumours can help doctors make the right management decisions.” Tom Bourne, lead researcher tumours. The ADNEX model can discriminate between benign, borderline, stage I invasive, stage II-IV invasive, and secondary metastatic tumours,” said Prof Bourne. According to Catherine Nyongesa an oncologist at Kenyatta National Hospital, in any cancer treatment, is important to get the pre-operative diagnosis right. “If it isn’t right, the patient may have a more extensive operation than they need, for example having an ovary removed unnecessarily,” said Dr Nyongesa. She said that ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose early, because symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain can be put down to other common illnesses. It is the most aggressive gynaeco- logical cancer, with only about 40 per cent survival after diagnosis. “One of the main factors in sur- vival is how early the cancer is diagnosed. There is currently no screening available, so patients have to FACTS Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women. It causes more deaths than any other type of female reproductive cancer. Ovarian cancer isn’t often found in its early stages, due to few symptoms and non reliable screening tests. Most deaths from ovarian cancer occur in women age 55 and older. According to medical scientists, the fewer children a woman has and the later in life she gives birth, the higher her risk of ovarian cancer rely on seeing a doctor and being correctly diagnosed in time,” she said. “If women ae diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they have a 90 per cent chance of surviving the next five years, but if the cancer is found at a later stage, the five-year survival rate reduced to 22 per cent.” Moreover there are so many changes in ovarian cancer, it is hard to know which ones are causing the tumour to be more aggressive, and which ones are just tagging along. “A woman may have abdominal bloating or urinary symptoms, for instance, but those problems are much more likely to have causes other than ovarian cancer. And right now, there is no effective screening test for the disease,” she said. Other symptoms she said, include persistent pelvic and abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, need to urinate urgently or more often than normal, changes in bowel habits, extreme fatigue and unexplained weight loss Like breast cancer, ovarian can- cer is not one disease but a range of diverse tumour types. But of the five types of ovarian cancer, the high grade serous is responsible for 75 per cent of ovarian cancer occurrence and 90 per cent of ovarian cancer mortality. Google expe≥iments with featu≥e fo≥ medical info≥mation By HAYLEY TSUKYAMA The Washington Post JUST IN TIME for flu season, Google is experimenting with a feature that provides live videochat advice to searchers looking for information on some medical conditions. We’ve all probably convinced ourselves at least once through frantic online searching, that we — or our children — have some sort of undiagnosed chronic or catastrophic disease. With the video-chat option, Google may be able to alleviate some of those concerns by providing a real, live doctor to tamp down that panic level at those times when you’re trying to figure out whether it’s worth scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Performing surgery through video conferencing. Google plans to start video chat feature. Pic: File Google confirmed that it’s running the pro- gramme in a limited trial. “When you’re searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available,” Google said. “We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people.” During the trial period, Google is covering all the costs of the online consultations. A Reddit user first brought attention to the feature — part of Google’s general advice service, Helpouts — in a post showing Google offering a videochat option for his search on “knee pain.” Not every medical query yields the option for a live chat, and in some cases searchers may be asked to set up an appointment rather than have immediate access to a medical professional. Telehealth is an area of medicine that a lot of companies have been looking at, particularly to improve health care in rural parts of the country. In many cases, states don’t allow for doctors to practise across state lines, which limits physicians’ ability to use telemedicine technology. An Medecins Sans Frontieres nurse talks to Ebola survivors in West Africa. Pic: File $15m bee health lab launched in Nairobi A $15.9 million state-of-the-art bee health reference laboratory has been launched to help study disease and pests in a bid to enhance food security through pollination. The laboratory located at Icipe headquarters in Nairobi is one of the largest in Africa and will help in investigating bee diseases and sterilisation of bees, genetics, pesticides that are harmful to bees, GIS mapping, pollination and breeding of bees. BRIEFS Tool to diagnose Ebola out by end of October A new tool that could allow doctors to diagnose a patient with suspected Ebola in under 15 minutes has been developed by France’s Atomic Energy Commission, which says the device, which has undergone trials at a high-security facility for validating the technique and prototype, will be available in Ebola-hit countries by the end of October for a clinical trial. It works by monoclonal antibodies reacting to the presence of virus in a tiny sample, which can be a drop of blood, plasma or urine. New viruses wiping out amphibians in Spain A deadly new disease has emerged that is wiping out amphibians, scientists report. A number of viruses have been found in northern Spain that are killing frog, toad and newt species. Infected animals can suffer from ulcers on their skin and die from internal bleeding. Researchers fear the strains, which belong to the Ranavirus group, have already spread to other countries. What is unusual is that they can jump between a range of species, killing them. WHO to use serum from Ebola survivors in Liberia Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the WHO. Assistant director general for health systems and innovation Marie Paule Kieny said partnerships are starting to be put in place to build capacity in the three countries to safely extract plasma and make preparations that can be used for the treatment of infective patients.
Oct 20th 2014
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