News in brief: Lung cancer advisory role for Associate Professor Gavin Wright; Medicare to widen breast MRI breast eligibility; Chemo patients not getting cardiotoxicity screening;

Thursday, 17 Feb 2022


Lung cancer advisory role for Associate Professor Gavin Wright

Thoracic surgeon Associate Professor Gavin Wright has been named as the new Chair of Cancer Australia’s Lung Cancer Advisory Group.

Associate Professor Gavin Wright will be leading the group that provides clinical input and advice in relation to the early design of a potential national lung cancer screening program for people at high risk of lung cancer in Australia. It also provides advice and promotes increasing awareness on the uptake of Cancer Australia’s lung cancer resources.

Professor Wright has appointments at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital and pioneered the use of minimally invasive and robotic thoracic surgery at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. He said he is an advocate for  multidisciplinary and multi-centre collaborations and the role would complement his work work as the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Alliance lead for lung cancer, particularly in the areas of lung cancer screening and addressing equity issues in lung cancer.


MRI breast check eligibility extended

Annual breast MRI checks will be made available on Medicare for asymptomatic women at high risk of developing breast cancer up to the age of 60 years, following a recommendation from the Medicare Services Advisory Committee.

The committee agreed to lift the age cut-off for eligibility from 50 to 60, based on advice from the Diagnostic Imaging Clinical Committee of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce.

The committee noted that most women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations will develop cancer before age 60, with peak incidence shown to occur in the 41 to 50-year age group for BRCA1 and 51 to 60-year age group for BRCA2.

About 4500 women a year in the 50-60 year age group will be eligible for Medicare-funded breast MRI checks, with the MBS item stating that it would be available to women with a close relative affected by breast cancer and those who have been identified by genetic testing as having a high risk breast cancer gene mutation.

The reduction in breast density that occurs after age 60 is associated with increased sensitivity of mammography, which makes it the more appropriate test in this age groups, the committee noted.


Chemo patients not getting cardiotoxicity screening

Very few cancer patients treated with cardiotoxic chemotherapy receive the recommended baseline transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) prior to starting therapy, an Australian study shows.

A review of records for 712 patients with solid cancer solid organ malignancies found that only 14.4% of those assigned to receive cardiotoxic chemotherapy had a baseline TTE, a level similar to a control group of patients not receiving cardiotoxic chemotherapy (13.9%).

Uptake of baseline TTE was slightly higher (40%) in a subgroup of 27 patients (4%) who deemed at very high risk of cardiotoxicity.

Patients receiving cardiotoxic chemotherapy were however more likely to have received a TTE during the course of treatment (32.3% vs 23.2%, p = 0.009), according to findings published by clinicians at Blacktown Hospital, Sydney in the European Heart Journal.

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