Blood cancers

News in brief: Genome testing funded for MM and CLL patients; ISBT Congress cancelled; Nutrition guidelines for cancer patients;


Genome testing funded for MM and CLL patients

The 2021 federal Budget has included an announcement of $2.9 million funding for genetic testing for people with multiple myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

The move is expected to provide genome-wide microarray testing (GWMA) for 13,500 patients. Funding was recommended by the Medicare Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) in 2019, based on its conclusion that GWMA was faster (2-4 days turnaround time rather than 18 days for karyotyping), more accurate, detected more genetic variations, and had a lower failure rate than karyotyping.

In recommending reimbursement, MSAC also advised that changes to MBS item 73343 would need coordination via the PBAC to change the existing and recommended PBS restrictions for ibrutinib, idelalisib and venetoclax.


Transfusion meeting another victim of COVID-19

The 32nd Regional ISBT Congress, which was to be held in Brisbane in November 2021, has been cancelled due to uncertainty about the return of international travel.

The International Society of Blood Transfusion (ISBT) and ANZSBT have also decided against hosting the Congress as a fully virtual meeting.

Instead, they are considering incorporating an online educational component into the Blood 2021 meeting in Adelaide in September.

“It is with deep regret that we accept that we will not be able to meet in Brisbane this year, but the decision has been taken at this time in the interest of safety and with the intention to provide clarity for all concerned,” the ISBT executive director Jenny White and president Erica Wood said.

All is not lost though, as the ISBT is holding an “ISBT in Focus” webinar from June 2-8. To find out more and register click here


Practical nutrition guidelines for cancer patients

Despite the consumer frenzy around cannabinoids, new clinical guidelines do not recommend them to improve taste disorders or anorexia in cancer patients.

In one of 43 recommendations, the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) guidelines on nutrition in cancer patients said there is simply not sufficient evidence for cannabinoids.

Also ruled out are glutamine supplementation to manage symptoms during chemotherapy or targeted therapy, and probiotics to reduce radiation-induced diarrhoea.

The guideline recommendations span general screening and assessment of nutritional status through to interventions for specific patient categories including patients undergoing different cancer treatments, palliative patients, and cancer survivors.

Nutritional interventions include oral, enteral or parenteral nutrition with exercise also featuring to support muscle mass, physical function, and metabolic pattern.

Clinical Nutrition

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