Quest takes cancer diagnostic services pan India

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 07, 2014

After a successful pilot run in New Delhi, Quest Diagnostics is taking its cancer testing services to 25 centres across the country.

Quest already has collection centres in 25 locations, including Mumbai, Bangalore, Kochi and Kolkata, providing regular testing services but now cancer-specific testing will be extended to these centres, said Mukul Bagga, Managing Director of Quest in India.

Cancer-centric diagnostics have specific requirements, like transporting the sample of bone marrow, for example. The services from Quest will be different both in terms of the proprietary technology and the depth if expertise involved in interpreting the data, Bagga told Business Line.

So, for example, where diagnostic companies collect bone marrow in a heparin tube (heparin keeps blood from clotting), Quest provides a proprietary medium, improving the quality of the final report, he says.

Another service is its advanced digital pathology platform used to exchange medical information and seek the expert opinion from a panel of 600 organ-focused US-based Quest experts.

In fact, according to data reported at the recently held Indian cancer congress — a retrospective review of 500 cancer cases that were referred for an expert opinion revealed that 40 per cent had their original treatment protocols changed after review of those cases by the panel of Quest experts, he said.

The diagnostics tests are priced on par with those offered by other diagnostic companies, but could be up to 30 per cent higher in tests sent to the main lab in the US for in-depth interpretation, Bagga said.

About 80 per cent of the cancer-test, in terms of volumes, is processed locally, while about 20 per cent is sent to the main lab in the US, for insights from experts.

Cancer incidence

Cancer incidence and mortality is on the rise. From 979,786 cases diagnosed in India in 2010, it is projected to touch 1,148,757 cases by 2020, Quest said, citing independent data. Death due to cancer in India was at 556,400 cases in 2010, it added, underlining the need for early detection, prevention and accurate diagnosis and monitoring.

Quest’s cancer services include Papby liquid-based cytology to screen cervical cancer and Leumeta, proprietary plasma-based test for leukaemia.

There are tests to detect haematological or blood cancers using next-generation sequencing, an advanced technique that identifies mutations and variants in an individual’s DNA or genome. One of its tests assesses the ROS1 gene mutation status to help determine a patient’s response to a certain lung cancer therapy. The company also provides testing for breast, cervical, prostate, soft tissue, bone and several other cancers, it added.

Quest Diagnostics India is a wholly owned subsidiary of the US diagnostic information and services company Quest, and it has been in India since 2008. Its main referral lab in India is in Gurgaon, Haryana.

Published on January 07, 2014

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