24 Apr 2018

Blood test trials aim to reduce higher Māori cancer rates

6:41 pm on 24 April 2018

A blood test which monitors cancer in the bloodstream is set to be trialled on Māori cancer patients.

blood test

Photo: 123rf

The University of Otago is developing a blood test that detects DNA that spills out from cancerous tumuors and into the blood stream.

The first trials for the blood test were under way for patients with colorectal or bowel cancer.

The university's professor Parry Guilford said the new method could be critical in improving health inequities facing Māori and those in isolated parts of the country.

Dr Guilford said the simple nature of the technology meant Māori patients who live in rural areas would not have to rely solely on hospital scans and X-rays to monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment.

"We think it's a real strength of the technology is that we can take away some of the burden from hopsital and take it to the rural hospitals.

The trial and study into how Māori patients respond to the blood test will begin this year, Dr Guilford said.

"We're very concious of the Treaty of Waitangi and our obligations there and we want to make sure Māori are partners in the ongoing research."

A second trial involving non-Māori patients living in rural communities will take place at a later date.