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Nigeria Acquires 1st PET-CT For Cancer Diagnosis In West Africa

On this year’s World Cancer Day, experts have urged oncologists to treat cancer scientifically in order to increase the survival rate and reduce mortality from the disease. This is coming as Me Cure Healthcare revolutionised the treatment of cancer by the unveiling of the Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography, PET CT, machine, the first of its…”
Olamide
February 7, 2022 11:23 am

On this year’s World Cancer Day, experts have urged oncologists to treat cancer scientifically in order to increase the survival rate and reduce mortality from the disease.
This is coming as Me Cure Healthcare revolutionised the treatment of cancer by the unveiling of the Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography, PET CT, machine, the first of its kind in Nigeria and West Africa at large.
PET-CT, is a nuclear medicine technique that combines, in a single gantry, a positron emission tomography scanner and an x-ray computed tomography scanner, to acquire sequential images from both devices in the same session, which are combined into a single superposed image.

Speaking during a media tour of Me Cure Healthcare Oncology centre in Lagos, the Chairman, Samir Udani said physicians should change the narrative in the treatment of cancer by taking support of science in treating cancer.

Udani said, Let’s give the third eyes which are PET-CT to the physicians so that scientifically cancer can be treated on time.He said the world is changing fast with technologies changing as well.

He recalled that already Nigeria records 125,000 new cancer cases every year.He added that there was no substitute to PET CT which was why Me Cure invested in it to promote early detection and cure.

Udani explained that the PET- CT machine project valued at about $40 million. The dynamics of the equipment was based on radiopharmaceutical or radiotracers injected in the patient’s body.

“PET uses small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers or radiopharmaceuticals, a special substance and a computer to evaluate organ and tissue functions.

“These radiopharmaceuticals cannot be imported because in two hours it loses half of its potency. Without these drugs, PET-CT is not possible.”

He regretted that despite the importance of the PET-CT machine, Nigeria is just talking of the first in West Africa while countries like Egypt, has 60 of it.

He explained that the PET-CT ensures accuracy in diagnosing cancer which includes the location, size and shape and the fact that guides managing physicians on proper treatment plans for their patients.

Noting that cancer is a social problem and a burden on the nation’s economy, Udani disclosed that the machine will be operational in Nigeria from February 15th, 2022.

He expressed hope that in the next five years the organisation will be able to have 10 PET-CT machines in Nigeria.

He said with N495, 000 a patient will get treated with a PET-CT machine in their centre unlike in the US where the cost is as high as $3,500, and in Kenya, $800.

Udani said the Diagnostic centre is working towards crashing the cost of cancer treatment, especially with PET-CT to as low as N50, 000.

Stating that overseas, insurance pay for the scanning, he regretted that in Nigeria over 90 per cent are not covered by insurance.

Conducting journalists around the facility, the Cyclotron & PET – CT Manager, Forhad Hossain, Me Cure Cancer Centre, said early detection of cancer ensures better prognosis and reduces mortality, hence, the need for a PET-CT.

Hossain said if PET- CT is done on time and cancer detected early, patients can achieve a near 100 per cent cure because treatment is done accurately.”

Throwing light on the workings of PET-CT, a Consultant Radiologist for Me Cure, Dr Durojaiye Adeuja, described the new machine as a landmark achievement for Nigeria and West Africa as it improves the diagnostic quality of managing all cancers.

He said cancer has become a reoccurring decimal, unlike the days when the prevalence was very low due to lack of forensic equipment.

“In our clime, we found that breast, colon, prostate and cervical cancers are on the rise and patients come to the hospital, they get detected, get surgery and go for radiotherapy or chemotherapy, these cases need to be followed up but we have issues following them up because we usually follow them up with CT or MRI but PET-CT has more advantage because it doubles the diagnostic quality with a combination of PET and CT as a whole.
“So if you are infusing both, PET itself helps to identify functionality while the CT identify the morphology, the structure as it were. If you now combine both there is an advantage because you are able to pick what is current, what is normal, you are able to pick what is residual. You are able to pick what is reoccurring, you are able to pick what is progressing or what is actually regressing or remission.

“Essentially, it is like you are using two parameters to evaluate a single variable which means, you are improving the specificity of your diagnosis and PET also increases the sensitivity of the diagnosis.

“In furtherance, we are able to tell the managing physician what we have seen and it is getting better or less. It also covers the advantage of being able to pick problems that were abinitio not detected.

“The procedure does not take so much time. In about 5 minutes to go through the machine and the diagnosis is done”.

It is not Invasive and the patient is in a relaxed position and in about 5 minutes is done. It is a watershed development or process because we improve our management of cancer patients. It covers all ages.

“PET is a whole-body machine. It starts scanning from the head to the face, nose, mouth down to the neck, abdomen and scan down to the pelvis and thighs”.

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