BITRI Board member Dr. Poloko Kebaabetswe has said cancer was a disaster plaguing the medical world. “It is a global scourge and continues to be major health problem,” she said. Kebaabetswe also noted that by 2012, there had been 8.2 million cancer related deaths globally while an estimated 75 million new cases are reported annually.
“Most of these cases are found in the African continent, especially in low to middle income countries,” she announced. She said new cancer cases were expected to go up by 70 percent by 2030.
Despite being at the same stage of prostate cancer, black males show a large indication of bio markers that show the extent of cancer in the body.
This was said by South African Head of nuclear Medicine Department at University of Pretoria and Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Professor Mike Sathekge during his presentation on ‘Theranostics in Prostate Cancer’ at the recent Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) quarterly lecture.
During his address, Sathekge said though not certain, the disparity could be attributed to genetics in the body of a black male patient.
He, however, noted that his department is making headway in technology to detect and target prostate cancer cells in patients with little harm to other cells surrounding the affected ones.
“We have performed several first-in-human studies and introduced peptide receptor radionuclide therapy and peptide radioligand therapy in Africa,” he announced.
Professor Sathekge said there has been a realisation in the mortality rate amongst patients of black origin than those of white descent. He attributed these additionally to socioeconomic factors. He said some cancer treatments include hormone therapy, radiotherapy and drugs, which can become costly for the average black man in the progressed stages of prostate cancer as indicated by the high mortality rate.
“The new theranostics treatment has less side effects as it uses targeted molecular imaging and therapeutic probes to specifically target affected cells,” he expressed, continuing that the theranostics treatment hinges on the idea that the technician ‘sees the disease and treats it’.
Despite the success of the theranostics therapy, Sethekge said the treatment of cancer in the body cannot be achieved with mono-therapy and requires multiple therapies as is the case with diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Tuberculosis (TB).
Present at the lecture was Deputy Permanent Secretary, ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr. Kekgonne Baipoledi.
Dr. Baipoledi advised men to take the reins and go for prostate cancer screening so as to detect the biomarkers and get the needed treatment in time. “Batswana should get tested for prostate cancer so that innovative solutions are engineered and used to treat the cancer,” he advised.
He also said his ministry is tasked with engaging all stakeholders (scientists, researchers, innovators and indigenous health practitioners) in the health fraternity to come up with solutions to health problems facing the country.
“Botswana is not taking full advantage of its subscription to the global National Atomic Association,” he lamented. He however said there is hope as there is a nuclear medicine and oncology department at the Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital.