Medical staff begin EGFR mutation testing for non-small cell lung cancer patients at Da Nang’s Oncology hospital. (Photo: VNA)

Da Nang (VNA) - The central city of Da Nang’s Oncology Hospital, in cooperation 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 Vietnam.

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 percent were local residents and 70 percent 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 5 million VND (221 USD) each including health insurance, while a tablet for non-small cell lung cancer costs 1 million VND (44.2 USD) with 50 percent 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 Vietnam, said EGFR mutation testing plays as the most important role in supporting non-small cell lung cancer patients.

He hopes that the cooperation 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 Vietnam, 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 percent of cancer patients--died in Vietnam 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 Vietnam and free accommodation for their relatives during treatment at the hospital since 2013.-VNA