Interviews, News, People

‘For N40,000, you can test your family for colon cancer at home’ – Maryam Ajikobi

In the comfort of your home, in less than a minute, for N40,000, you can test yourself and four other people for colon cancer.

Maryam Ajikobi, Canada-trained geneticist, who is the CEO/Managing Director of HumGene Ltd, explains how the stool-based test kit (HealthGuard) works…

You have a new product, what exactly does it do?

HealthGuard is a new, stool-based test known as the fecal immunochemical test (FIT). These stool-based tests can be done at home, having a much higher sensitivity and specificity for colon cancer. 

The HealthGuard test determines if there is blood in your stool (a common sign of colon cancer), if there are precancerous polyps (abnormal growths of tissue), or abnormal DNA.

Using HealthGuard is easy, there is no special preparation needed for this test, just follow the instruction on the HealthGuard kit. This includes not needing to stop any medication prior to collecting a sample.

It is highly recommended for people of 40 years and above or people with family history of colon cancer (you are more likely to develop colon cancer if you have a blood relative who has had the disease). If more than one family member has colon cancer or rectal cancer, your risk is even greater). 

Other risk factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include: Older age, African/Black race, A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps, Inflammatory intestinal conditions, Inherited syndromes that increase colon cancer risk, Diabetes (people with diabetes or insulin resistance have an increased risk of colon cancer), Smoking(people who smoke may have an increased risk of colon cancer), Alcohol (Heavy use of alcohol increases your risk of colon cancer), Radiation therapy for cancer (Radiation therapy directed at the abdomen to treat previous cancers increases the risk of colon cancer), etc.

How accurate is the test kit?

HealthGuard currently detects colon cancer with 92% accuracy, but only about 42% accurate in detecting if you have polpys.

What should those who find blood in the faeces do?

It is suggested that anyone who notices blood in his or her stool speak with a Gastroenterologist to determine if further examination and treatment is needed. A Gastroenterologist is a specialist in gastrointestinal diseases and has received special training in colonoscopy. 

Gastroenterologists perform more colonoscopies by far than any other specialty. Non-gastroenterologists are five times more likely to miss colorectal cancer during colonoscopy than Gastroenterologists

Should they be worried?

Almost 1 in 6 people who use the HealthGuard test will have a positive result that suggests the presence of colorectal cancer, precancerous polyps or abnormal DNA. They will no doubt worry they have colon cancer while scheduling and preparing for the recommended follow-up colonoscopy.

What other symptoms should they be concerned about?

·       A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool.

·       Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain.

·       A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely.

·       Weakness or fatigue.

·       Unexplained weight loss

What are the advantages of early detection?

Early detection is important because when abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread and be harder to treat. Several screening tests have been shown to detect cancer early and to reduce the chance of dying from that cancer.

When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage before it has spread, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 90%. But only about 4 out of 10 colorectal cancers are found at this early stage. When cancer has spread outside the colon or rectum, survival rates are lower.

Screening can often find colorectal cancer early, when it’s small, hasn’t spread, and might be easier to treat. Regular screening can even prevent colorectal cancer. A polyp can take as many as 10 to 15 years to develop into cancer. With screening, doctors can find and remove polyps before they have the chance to turn into cancer. 95% of colon cancers begin as polyps.

Overall, colorectal cancer is highly preventable, and if detected early, it’s also one of the most curable types of cancer. Up to 85% of colorectal cancers could be prevented or successfully treated if caught early.

How dangerous is colon cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a cancer found in the colon or rectum. Like all forms of cancer, colorectal cancer gets its start when cells begin dividing uncontrollably. The cells then form tumors that can spread to other parts of the body.

Most colorectal cancers arise from small growths called polyps. Polyps come in two types, hyperplastic and adenomatous. Hyperplastic polyps are tiny and have no potential to turn cancerous. But adenomatous polyps can be dangerous, depending largely on size. Growths less than 5 millimeters across almost never cause trouble, but growths more than 2 centimeters across have a 50-50 chance of becoming cancerous within 10 to 15 years. Not all polyps are cancerous, but if they are adenomatous, they should still be removed and sent to the pathology lab for study.

Colorectal cancer was the third most common cancer with 1.8 million new cases in 2018.

About one-third of all people with colon cancer and cancer in the rectum die from the disease within five years of diagnosis. As with any cancer, the longer the delay in treatment, the greater the danger. The good news is that deaths from this disease have declined compared with a decade ago, and early detection is apparently one reason.

If a doctor catches the cancer while it’s still confined to the outer lining of the colon or rectum, you can probably look forward to a full recovery. If the cancer spreads to the muscle of the colon or rectum, you have a 75 percent chance to live at least another five years. In the worst-case scenario, the cancer can spread to the liver, bones, or lungs.

How much does it cost?

It is N40,000.00 only for a pack containing 5 test kits.

How can your clients obtain it?

They can contact us on the following numbers-

Nigeria:

+2348107519982 (call or WhatsApp)

Canada:

+1 (604) 900-0229 (call only)

+14389855422 (WhatsApp only)

Email: info@humgene.com

Website: www.humgene.com

HealthGuard test kit instructions

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