By Dr Hilda High for oncologynews.com.au
The breast cancer charity, Pink Hope, recently announced it would be co-funding genetic testing for women to help “families to make informed choices when it comes to genetic testing”.
Dr Hilda High, Genetic Oncologist with Sydney Cancer Genetics explains: “Pink Hope is raising awareness. They want people to know that private clinics and self-funded testing is available and that the cost of testing has declined substantially in recent years.”
Pink Hope has partnered with US company Color Genomics. A main target group is women who are at moderate to high risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer and who had missed out on publicly funded testing in the public system or were on a long wait list.
Public clinics triage patients, giving priority to high risk patients making treatment decisions. This can mean longer wait times for patients who just miss out on eligibility. “The classic example is a woman with triple negative breast cancer and no family history. Diagnosed at age 50 she would be eligible for a publicly funded test, at 51, she isn’t. As her risk doesn’t fall to zero just because she’s a year older, she may consider self-funding BRCA testing.”
The test costs US $250 + $50 postage and handling (around $400). Pink Hope, working with charity Barbells for Boobs, is offering the test for $200 under a genetic testing grant program. (see the Pink Hope’s Your Risk website for details).
However Dr High cautioned: “The Color Panel is one of a variety of tests I use. The test must still be ordered by a doctor who assumes medico-legal responsibility for interpreting the result. Genetic counselling, to discuss the implications and limitations of testing is still very important. Particularly, as the test includes a panel of genes, the possibility of unexpected or uncertain findings needs to be discussed before the test is ordered.”