Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd.
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd.

Cancer diagnosis now cheaper for Gladstone residents

DIAGNOSIS of rare cancers using new sophisticated molecular tests is now more affordable for Gladstone residents after the Federal Government included the procedures under Medicare.

The diagnosis could have cost locals up to $400.

Every year in Australia 52,000 people are diagnosed with rare cancers and 25,000 people die from them.

The testing will help to identify lung cancer, brain tumours, lymphomas, sarcomas and rare salivary gland and ovarian tumours, plus others.

Royal College of Pathologists Australasia spokeswoman Sandra O'Toole said rare cancers were often difficult to diagnose using traditional methods and patients could wait months or sometimes years for results.

Prof O'Toole said the new tests that checked the molecular signature of the cancer to determine whether it was likely to be aggressive or deadly, would speed diagnosis.

The cancers were considered rare on their own, but combined they made up a significant proportion of annually diagnosed cases, she said.

Known as the "somatic gene test", the method looks specifically for mutated genes not inherited from parents.

Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd said the new testing announced on May 1 would be a huge benefit to many Gladstone residents.

Mr O'Dowd said the 32 new somatic molecular tests were announced in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook as part of Medicare reforms.

"The new Medicare Benefits Schedule items included 20 items to inform diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of selected cancers by genetic testing of certain somatic tumour markers," he said.

"The new molecular signature tests for cancer available test for hundreds of somatic tumour markers (genetic variations not necessarily resulting from a patient's hereditary makeup), irrespective of the type of the cancer."

     - with NEWS 360

 



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