Apollo Cancer Centre launches Blood Test for early detection of Breast Cancer; Experts say complementary tests still needed

Apollo Cancer Centres in association with Datar Cancer Genetics on Wednesday launched a blood test that can detect breast cancers at early stages in asymptomatic individuals. According to the centre’s press statement, the blood test, EasyCheck- Breast, can help in the detection of breast cancer even before the first stage. The Apollo group informed that the EasyCheck will be available across India from today at all Apollo Cancer Centres.

“In line with our mission to spread awareness about early detection of cancers and offer world-class cancer treatment, the launch of EasyCheck Breast marks an important success towards quality technological advancements ensuring timely diagnosis and treatment to lower the mortality rate. This association with Datar Cancer Genetics has made a path-breaking achievement and at Apollo Cancer Centres, we are well equipped to diagnose breast cancers with the best in class advancements and treatments. I, humbly, request the caretakers of the family, the women of India, to step out for themselves and make sure to get themselves tested at least once a year to make sure you are safe from breast cancer. From diagnosis to treatment, Apollo Cancer Centres pledges to stand with their patients at all times and give them Tender Loving Care on the road to recovery,” Dr Prathap Reddy, Founder & Chairman, Apollo Hospitals, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, most cancers are detected at advanced stages which necessitate more intensive and expensive treatments which have a greater risk of debilitating side effects and treatment failures. EasyCheck- Breast is the culmination of years of collaborative international research and innovation and has been developed, tested, and validated on population-sized cohorts. A simple blood draw holds the promise of early cancer detection in asymptomatic individuals and opens the possibilities of successful treatments and improved survival,” Rajan Datar, Founder & Chairman, Datar Cancer Genetics, stated on Wednesday.

Till now, blood tests are not used to diagnose breast cancer extensively. However, Breast cancer cells sometimes make substances called tumor markers that can be found in the blood. Meanwhile, experts have pointed out that any blood test needs to complement and add to standard-of-care screening.

“Blood tests are the most minimally invasively technique. There is no major incision or major surgical intervention for seeing the cancer profile. There are biomarkers for several different cancers and there is a need for mutational analysis for several different cancer. Apart from blood, there are several other things like reproductive cancer, there is a need for vaginal swabs. When we draw blood we try to detect mutational changes,” Dr. Saima Naz Khan, Senior Manager, Scientific Affairs, Genes2Me told Financial Express.com.

Dr. Amit Bharagava, Senior Consultant Medical Oncology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad told Financial Express.com that usually Breast Cancer is diagnosed with Biopsy however, nowadays liquid biopsy is also being conducted to diagnose cancer.

“In liquid biopsy blood is collected from the person and we track the circulating tumour cells in the blood and do the sequencing on the blood sample or a DNA test which gives us the picture. But we need more evidence for the reliability with respect to blood tests. But yes, a blood test can help. I am not sure it will be able to detect if the lump or something suspicious in the breast is cancerous or not. We need more trials and more proofs but yes it’s not a bad thing to try,” Dr. Bharagava told Financial Express.com.

Globally, Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women. According to reports, it has now surpassed lung cancer as the leading cause of global cancer incidence in 2020, with an estimated 2.3 million new cases, representing 11.7 percent of all cancer cases. Moreover, various epidemiological studies have shown that the global burden of Breast Cancer is expected to cross almost 2 million by the year 2030.

Meanwhile, in India, the incidence has increased significantly, almost by 50 percent, between 1965 and 1985. The estimated number of incident cases in India in 2016 was 118000. As per data, in India, Breast Cancer accounted for 13.5% (178361) of all cancer cases and 10.6 percent (90408) of all deaths in 2020. 

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