• Blood Test that can detect Breast Cancer is available in India now


    Prathap Reddy, the founder and chairman of Apollo Hospitals, described the test as a revolutionary step toward detecting breast cancer in Indian women at an early stage.

    Digital Desk: On June 22, Datar Cancer Genetics, in collaboration with the Apollo group of hospitals, launched a first-of-its-kind blood test that can detect breast cancer in its early stages in the country.

    The EasyCheck Breast test will set you back Rs 6,000. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in November of last year as an annual test for healthy women over the age of 40 who have no symptoms.

    It is sold under various brand names in nearly 15 countries, including Europe.

    The technology claims to have nearly 99 percent sensitivity, which means it has less than 1% false-positive reports, and over 88 percent specificity, which means that there is a chance of false negativity in about 12% of cases.

    The test will initially be available through Apollo's hospitals, but the group hopes to eventually expand it to all of its 1,600 blood collection centres.

    Prathap Reddy, the founder and chairman of Apollo Hospitals, described the test as a revolutionary step toward detecting breast cancer in Indian women at an early stage.

    However, Datar has stated that, despite the test's high success rate in detecting cancer at an early stage, it should not be used in place of traditional breast cancer screening tools such as mammograms and ultrasonography.

    Dr. Ramesh Sarin, a senior surgical oncologist at Apollo Hospital in Delhi, stated at the test's launch that women who test positive for cancer using the new technology can skip conventional screening exams and go straight to a biopsy and treatment planning.

    Those who test negative should still undergo additional screening tests to rule out cancer completely.

    How does it work?

    This blood test employs Datar Cancer Genetics' proprietary technology to detect circulating tumour cells and clusters or biomarkers specific to breast cancer with high accuracy.

    Data from clinical trials on over 8,000 women in India for the test show that it can detect stage 0 and stage 1 breast cancers with greater than 99 percent accuracy and no false positives.The test has been validated on more than 20,000 women comprising healthy and cancer patients, the company said. The advantage of the test is that it requires only 5 ml of blood and does not involve any radiation exposure or discomfort associated with mammography.

    According to the data presented by Dr. Chirantan Bose, director of patient services at Datar, the test can detect more than 80% of cases in stage 0, 90% of cases in stage 1, 95% of cases in stages 2 and 3, and 100% of cases in stage 4.

    The prevalence of breast cancer in India

    While breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women worldwide, having surpassed lung cancer as the leading cause of global cancer incidence in 2020, the incidence has increased significantly in India as well, nearly by 50% between 1965 and 1985.

    The estimated number of cases reported in India in 2020 was 180000, and experts estimate that nearly half of those diagnosed with this cancer die as a result of late diagnosis and poor prognosis (treatment outcome).

    According to statistics, 80 percent of breast cancer cases in India are detected at stages two and three, compared to 29 percent in the United States.

    On the contrary, only about 10% of breast cancer cases in India are detected in stage 0 or 1, when the bare minimum of medical intervention is required to treat it with a high chance of cure.



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