UPDATED: Roche rolls out thyroid cancer Dx

Roche ($RHHBY) continued its diagnostics rollout this week with the global launch of yet another test. This one enables early diagnosis of a common form of thyroid cancer and then subsequent monitoring of a patient's progress under treatment.

Elevated levels of calcitonin in the blood can point to the onset of medullary thyroid cancer, and the Swiss company's "Elecsys Calcitonin" laboratory test screens for the crucial biomarker earlier than current tests allow. It is an antibody-based test available internationally but not yet in the U.S.

That's crucial for cancer treatment. Early diagnosis increases survival odds because it enables sooner intervention; doctors remove much or all of the thyroid gland and then monitor patients every six months to see if the cancer returns. Medullary thyroid cancer accounts for as many as 10% of all thyroid cancers and is the third most common form of the disease, according to the company.

Chief operating officer Roland Diggelmann said in a statement that the company continues to focus on developing laboratory tests that allow for both cancer diagnosis and management, with a target of helping to increase patient survival.

Roche's diagnostics arm has experienced robust sales growth, and the company has pledged to pursue continued expansion in 2013. Internally, more than 60% of Roche's pipeline drug treatments are paired with companion diagnostics. And the division has steadily racked up approvals for new tests, with a dual expansion of production capacity. In 2012, Roche's diagnostics arm achieved a 20% share of the global market.

- read the release

Editor's Note: This story was updated to correctly refer to Roche's thyroid cancer diagnostic as an antibody-based test, and to include additional approval information.

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