Molecular oncology testing in resource-limited settings

Academic Article


  • Cancer prevalence and mortality are high in developing nations, where resources for cancer control are inadequate. Nearly one-quarter of cancers in resource-limited nations are infection related, and molecular assays can capitalize on this relationship by detecting pertinent pathogen genomes and human gene variants to identify those at highest risk for progression to cancer, to classify lesions, to predict effective therapy, and to monitor tumor burden over time. Prime examples are human papillomavirus in cervical neoplasia, Helicobacter pylori and Epstein-Barr virus in gastric adenocarcinoma and lymphoma, and hepatitis B or C virus in hepatocellular cancer. Research is underway to engineer devices that overcome social, economic, and technical barriers limiting effective laboratory support. Additional challenges include an educated workforce, infrastructure for quality metrics and record keeping, and funds to sustain molecular test services. The combination of well-designed interfaces, novel and robust electrochemical technology, and telemedicine tools will promote adoption by frontline providers. Fast turnaround is crucial for surmounting loss to follow-up, although increased use of cell phones, even in rural areas, enhances options for patient education and engagement. Links to a broadband network facilitate consultation and centralized storage of medical data. Molecular technology shows promise to address gaps in health care through rapid, user-friendly, and cost-effective devices reflecting clinical priorities in resource-poor areas.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gulley ML; Morgan DR
  • Start Page

  • 601
  • End Page

  • 611
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 6