Treatment Outcomes: Educate Patients on Accurate, Reliable Diagnosis, Experts Urge Clinicians

Posted on: Tue 19-04-2022

To improve outcomes of cancer treatment, medical experts have urged clinicians to educate patients on accurate and reliable diagnoses towards promoting the treatments.

The experts who spoke at the maiden 7RiverLabs Conference themed ‘Equalising Precision Diagnostics in Nigeria’  warned that it is dangerous for patients to waste money on half treatment that leads nowhere.

An Associate Professor/Consultant Haematologist, University of Calabar/ University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Dr. Marcus Inyama Asuquo, in his presentation entitled: “Cancer Case Presentation: The role of accurate and reliable diagnostic testing in a real-life scenario”, said over the ages, clinical diagnosis has moved from the occult and metaphysical to the era of genomics sciences using novel tools that pinpoint the cause(s) of disease at the molecular level with a high level of accuracy and precision.

He said the development has opened a new vista of healthcare with the potential to repair the health of an individual with the administration of a custom made molecule that repairs the damaged gene.

Asuquo said clinicians should handle diagnosis well to make it easier for both patients and physicians to start treatment.

“Breaking the news to patients that has cancer is a herculean task and that is where we lose most patients and they reject the diagnosis and go to a place where they feel they have better treatment.  

“We had a young boy about 23 years that had a lymphoma. We finished the diagnosis he did not have money.  I have to reach out to someone whom I convinced and the person donated money and the drugs were bought.  And then just to stablise him to start treatment, he said ‘doctor excuse me let me go and take care of myself.  He went to church and died in the church a week after leaving the hospital.

“As clinicians, we have to do a lot to really convince the patients this is where you ought to take your treatment.  We also use patients advocate.  We have patients who have been living with cancer for nine years and above, we use them to encourage others.  

We have another patient and he needs targeted therapy, the cost for one injection is N520, 000 and he took it to his boss and the boss allocated land to him in Abuja. He sold it and the proceeds were used to buy the drugs and he is able to live long.

It depends on the extent you need to go and tell them the truth. Don’t just say this patient cannot afford it and give them whatever you feel.  Tell them the truth and let them make a decision,” he added.

Asuquo said three clinical uses of laboratory investigation included accuracy, reliability, accessible.

The  Interim  Chief Executive Officer, 7RLabs by 54gene, Jude Uzonwanne said they have raised counsellors and physicians for cancer patients but more was needed to help tackle the implications of diagnosis, and results and improve communication.

On the death of Gospel singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, he said a crucial stakeholder was the pastor.

“We have to find a way to convince pastors to truly have a different conversation and say God has given us the insight and the knowledge to be able to diagnose scientifically and has also given us the ability to help ourselves. Let us assemble prayer warriors but please let us take our medications. Don’t flee to the church.”

He stressed the need for Nigerian religious leaders to learn to turn patients back to the hospitals and ask them to take the course of treatments recommended by their doctors than sitting in the church and praying without the aid of medications.

“We need all these stakeholders, whether it is the church or members of the family to say to patients that you have to pursue the parts of treatment as recommended for you and the more treatments are based on understanding the more the treatment will work.  All of us doing our parts will create a better outcome for our patients and it is better for us not to shy aware from that discussion,” he stated.

Uzonwanne said 7RiversLab by 54 Gene was set up to help medical doctors treat the exact cause and treating blindly. The workshop was also used to introduce advanced test offerings to stakeholders and the medical/scientific community.

In his presentation on “Private and Confidential Molecular Diagnostics, the future of personalised medicine”, the 7RiverLabs Director, Molecular Diagnostics Operations, Dr Wissam Hamou, lamented that globally, cancer data suggests that the cancer burden has risen to 19.3 million cases and 10 million cancer deaths in 2020. He traced a number of factors responsible to include; the ageing population, environmental triggers, and socioeconomic status.