Vietnam's lung cancer patients to get free EGFR mutation testing
The central city’s Oncology Hospital, in co-operation with the British–Swedish biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, has launched its first-ever Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation testing programme for non-small cell lung cancer patients in Viet Nam.
Hospital director Nguyen Ut said the testing, which has seen as the first in Asia Pacific region, will help non-small-cell lung cancer patients in the central region increase survival from one to two years with non-progressive of the disease.
“The testing system also helps lung cancer patients save time and money from traveling from the region to HCM city for three-week tests,” Ut said, adding that the EGFR mutation testing will give results within 24 hours instead of several weeks.
He said the 550-bed hospital has seen overload of over 700 patients, of which 30 per cent were local residents and 70 per cent were from 40 provinces and cities.
As scheduled, the hospital and AstraZeneca will give free of charge testing for all patients in the first year.
According to deputy director of the hospital, Nguyen Hoang Long, an EGFR mutation test would cost around VND5 million (US$221) each including health insurance, while a tablet for non-small cell lung cancer costs VND1 million ($44.2) with 50 per cent paid by health insurance.
Long said EGFR mutation testing also allows doctors to diagnose accurately, while patients will ease their pains from taking pills rather than costly chemotherapy.
Nicolas Jones, chief representative of AstraZeneca Singapore’s office in Viet Nam, said EGFR mutation testing plays as the most important role in supporting non-small cell lung cancer patients.
He hopes that the co-operation with Da Nang’s Oncology will provide an easier access to European standard EGFR mutation testing among patients in Da Nang and neighbouring provinces.
He said the launch of EGFR mutation testing will help prolong survival among lung cancer patients and improve health care service in Viet Nam, which is AstraZeneca’s commitment.
Nicolas added that AstraZeneca will provide testing procedure consultation and testing as well as EGFR testing mutation technical training for physicians and medical staffs of the hospital.
According to the ministry of health, lung cancer has a high fatality rate among cancer patients. 19,559 patients--20.6 per cent of cancer patients--died in Viet Nam in 2012.
It’s expected that the country would see more than 29,000 new cases of lung cancer in 2020.
The hospital has provided free of charge treatment and meals for the poor cancer patients in central Viet Nam and free accommodation for their relatives during treatment at the hospital since 2013.