Cancer, with its high prevalence and mortality rate, continues to rank among the world's deadliest and most costly diseases. According to the World Health Organisation, (WHO), in 2003, about 25 million people live with cancer and nearly 11 million new cases are diagnosed each year.
The report also predicted the demand for more sophisticated diagnostics continues to grow and synergies between tests and new therapeutics emerge. IVD tests for cancer will continue to see a 13 per cent annual growth.
Despite the high price tag and hesitation by payer groups, both private and government based, to accept these newer diagnostic modalities, the sheer number of cases threaten to overwhelm these arguments.
Successful commercialisation of these tests carries a price tag, with quotes from $350.00 to $3500.00. There is considerable scepticism over the ability of health care systems, worldwide, to pay for these new tests, which so far have shown little effect on patient outcomes.
Second, the 1990s tremendous strides were made in cancer management using more traditional tests including tissue biopsies and serum assays, which means that penetrating the existing clinical market will be challenging.
Cancer drug research is gradually shifting from traditional cytotoxic chemotherapies toward higher specificity immunological and biological approaches that target unique biochemical receptors and signalling pathways.
These new drugs will be more cancer- and patient-specific and will have the potential for slowing cancer growth and inhibiting disease progression, with fewer adverse effects on the patient.
As these drugs come to market, in vitro diagnostics will become critical to matching drug to cancer and to patient and then the monitoring of the drug's action on the disease.
"With continual advancements in the field of bioinformatics and the links between genes, proteins, and cancer, we are seeing a remarkable shift in approaches to the screening and monitoring of cancer," said Shara Rosen, the author of the report.
"Couple this with an aging population, higher incidences of cancer, and the emergence of pharma-diagnostic research partnerships, and you have a recipe for a very healthy market outlook," she added.
It is anticipated that many of the newer test modalities such as microarrays (chips), mass spectroscopy protein patterns, amplification of tumor cell DNA and RNA, and others will piggyback onto these trends in cancer diagnosis and treatment.
There is the expectation that they will make a huge difference in the diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring of cancer patients.
On account of these developments, cancer testing has brought new life to the diagnostics industry in the form of new tests, technologies, new companies and renewed investor interest.
"Our research indicates that in the next few years some 50 immunoassays for new tumor markers, 20 or so biochip systems, 25 tests for genes and proteins in peripheral blood are near market," said Rosen.
"Not to be left behind, at least 25 new immunohistochemical and in situ hybridisation assays will be introduced in the near future."
There are even several point-of-care DNA analysis systems in development, and just about every major cancer treatment canter and research group is working on gene and protein patterns for the early detection of cancer.
The Worldwide Market for Cancer Diagnostics can be purchased directly from Kalorama Information.