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Indo-US experts developing solar-powered oral cancer detector for remote areas

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Kolkata: Researchers in India and the US are testing a handy solar-powered device for early detection of oral cancer which could be integrated with mobile technology, enabling faster and accurate diagnostics in rural areas.

Designed by the Beckman Laser Institute (BLI), University of California-Irvine (UCI) and the Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre (MSCC) in Bengaluru, the compact screening and diagnosing system – slightly larger than a shoe box – has been specially adapted for India, which has one of the highest rates of head and neck cancers in the world and accounts for the highest rate among women.

Its light-weight and user-friendly features mean even minimally educated healthcare workers in the field can apply it. The solar energy-driven device will capture images of the patient’s oral cavity and transmit them via a mobile phone to experts at the centre.

“India is the first country in which we are using the device – it was specifically designed to meet conditions and needs there. The final device will have a solar option,” Petra Wilder-Smith of BLI told a news agency in an email interaction.

Recognised as a pioneer in the application of optics and lasers in oral diagnosis, Wilder-Smith said the device is based on optical coherence tomography (OCT) – an imaging technology that is similar to ultrasound, except that it uses light (a laser). The screening will be in real-time and the patient will not be subjected to harmful radiation.

“The inexpensive, very small, robust portable diagnostic system for oral cancer based on OCT will be used to screen for oral cancer in the field by basic level healthcare workers in India, and a simple diagnostic algorithm will indicate further diagnostic and treatment needs for each individual,” said Wilder-Smith, director of dentistry at BLI.

Oral cancer is the most common cancer in India, accounting for 40 percent of all cancers overall and for over 50 percent of all cancers in some areas of the country.

It is also disturbing to note the spike in oral cancer in young adults.

“In the US, the oral cancer rate is also high, especially in African-Americans, older persons, and tobacco and alcohol users. It is particularly troubling that recently a trend has been observed worldwide towards an increased incidence of oral cancer among young adults,” informed Wilder-Smith, stressing on early detection.

Why the emphasis on the light-based technology?

Wilder-Smith said oral cancer and pre-cancer are currently diagnosed using a visual exam, which has a poor accuracy rate, and by surgical biopsy, which cannot be performed in the field by basic-level healthcare workers.

And since existing and emerging imaging-based diagnostic tools are too expensive, too fragile and difficult to operate in remote locations, head and neck oncologist M.A Kuriakose from MSCC, who is leading the venture in India, said the probe will be of immense value in low-resource settings in rural India, where visits to dentists are rare.

“It is being tested in MSCC Bengaluru. The validation phase is 12 months. We are also planning to incorporate the transmission of the laser image from remote location via a mobile phone. Once developed, one needs to get regulatory approvals before it can be made available for wider clinical use,” Kuriakose said.

With the fabrication cost goal estimated at lower than $5,000 (Rs.335,000), researchers say the subsequent models of the probe will be wireless and 3D scan-enabled.

“The experimental model costs about Rs.1.5 lakh (lower than that of existing commercial devices). However, the commercial product cost will be significantly lower,” Kuriakose told a news agency.

The project is funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, under the Indo-US collaborative programme. The Department of Biotechnology is also a funding partner, said Kuriakose.

The collaborators are also working in close consultation to thrash out a simple diagnostic algorithm which will indicate further diagnostic and treatment needs for each individual.

“Screening will identify whether a person needs to travel to a centre with higher levels of expertise in oral cancer for further tests and potential cancer therapy,” Wilder-Smith added.

(Sahana Ghosh, IANS)

(Picture credit:www.thehoopsnews.com)

 

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HPV Vaccination May Bring An End To Cervical Cancer In India by 2070

Combining high uptake of the HPV vaccine and cervical screening could eliminate cervical cancer as a public health hazard in 149 out of 181 countries by 2100 and up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer by 2050.

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Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, of which around 85 per cent occur in less developed nations. Pixabay

Human papillomavirus (HPV) screening and vaccination must be taken up on a war footing in countries like India to prevent 15 million cervical cancer deaths among women by 2050, a Lancet research said.

Causing the second-highest number of deaths among Indian women among cancer variants, cervical cancer, in a majority of cases, is caused by HPV, a group of more than 150 viruses.

The efforts might even result in cervical cancer being eliminated as a public health hazard in India by 2070-79, according to the study, published in The Lancet Oncology journal.

Combining high uptake of the HPV vaccine and cervical screening could eliminate cervical cancer as a public health hazard in 149 out of 181 countries by 2100 and up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer by 2050.

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“Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely poor among common people; that makes containing the disease a challenge,” Anjila Aneja, Director at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, told IANS. Pixabay

If the high coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical screening cannot be achieved globally, over 44 million women could be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the next 50 years with two-thirds of these cases and an additional estimated 15 million deaths, would occur in countries with low and medium levels of development.

“More than two thirds of cases prevented would be in countries with low and medium levels of human development like India, Nigeria, and Malawi, where there has so far been limited access to HPV vaccination or cervical screening,” said lead author Professor Karen Canfell from the Cancer Council New South Wales in Australia.

However, large disparities exist in cervical screening and HPV vaccination coverage among countries.

“Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely poor among common people; that makes containing the disease a challenge,” Anjila Aneja, Director at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, told IANS.

“While societal barriers prevent women from seeking medical help in advance, women are forced to come out at a later stage when the disease has reached an advanced stage,” she said.

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Screening and broad-spectrum HPV vaccines could potentially prevent up to 84-90 per cent of cervical cancers, the study said. Pixabay

However, Canfell says that despite the enormity of the problem, their findings suggest that “global elimination is within reach with tools that are already available, provided that both high coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical screening can be achieved.

Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, of which around 85 per cent occur in less developed nations.

Screening and broad-spectrum HPV vaccines could potentially prevent up to 84-90 per cent of cervical cancers, the study said.

Also Read: Indian IT Act Silent On Social Media’s Manipulative Role
“Diagnostic tests such as the pap smear are effective in identifying cancerous tendencies.

“However, these tests are available with a limited number of providers and largely within the cities. This makes screening sporadic and leaves out women who live in rural areas,” Aneja added. (IANS)