Breast cancer

Go ahead for funding of genetic tests for women

The MBS will fund genetic testing of women with hereditary mutations predisposing them to breast and ovarian cancers from 1 November.

MBS funding for a seven-gene panel including BRCA 1 and 2 will also extend to family members of clinically affected women, according to a spokesperson from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA).

Chair of the RCPA Genetics Advisory Committee Dr Melody Caramins told the limbic it had been a long wait for their application to receive the support of the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

While the cost of privately funding the tests has dropped considerably in recent years, MBS funding would make the tests much more accessible.

“Now, with these changes to the MBS, at-risk patients will have access to free testing. The patient criteria to meet the threshold for testing will be regulated, however this change will still enable widespread testing of at-risk patients to take place,” she said.

“It is a huge milestone and will significantly improve the lives of Australians, offering more choice via access to affordable screening and treatment options.”

Dr Caramins said the availability of public funding would certainly encourage more enquires and discussion about genetic testing but was unlikely to lead to inappropriate levels of testing.

“Not everyone will meet the criteria including breast cancer at a young age, bilateral breast cancer or a history of male breast cancer in the family.”

Requests for the genetic tests can only come from specialist physicians.

Dr Caramins said an application to MSAC to fund genetic testing for Lynch syndrome was also progressing.

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