Peter Mac scientists have been part of a nationwide push to get an important genetic test for blood cancer funded by Medicare.
Approved by the federal government earlier this year and now funded in recent days, this precision diagnostic testing – called a haematological malignancy gene panel test – analyses specific genes associated with blood-related cancers, such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
Different mutations can have varying effects on the behaviour of the cancer and its response to treatment.
Peter Mac Haematologist Associate Professor Piers Blombery worked closely with the The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and haematologists around Australia to get the test approved for funding.
“This such a massive leap forward for improving the diagnosis and treatment for patients with blood cancer in Australia – it is difficult to overstate the importance,” A/Prof Blombery said.
“This testing is vital and will help us determine the diagnosis, prognosis and management of a patient presenting with a clinically suspected haematological malignancy of myeloid or lymphoid origin.”
This sophisticated diagnostic tool will allow haematologists to develop personalised treatment plans for patients based on their genes, with many gene panel tests designed to identify mutations that have approved targeted therapies.
The test can also provide insights into how the cancer is likely to respond to particular treatments. For example, certain mutations may make the cancer cells more or less susceptible to chemotherapy or other treatment options.
“When a particular mutation is identified, we can choose a targeted therapy that is more likely to be effective for that specific genetic alteration,” Professor Blombery explains.
“Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, treatments are tailored to the individual’s genetic profile which can lead to more effective treatment with less side effects.”
As treatment progresses, repeated gene panel tests can be conducted to monitor changes in the genetic profile of the cancer. This helps doctors adapt the treatment strategy as needed, ensuring that the treatment remains effective over time.
This expanded genetic testing will be conducted through Peter Mac’s Pathology Department and the Wilson Centre for Blood Cancer Genomics.
Source: Peter Mac