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BCNA News 25 Feb 2020

Oncotype DX again rejected for Medicare subsidy

Oncotype DX was rejected for a Government subsidy on 20 February, even though the test could result in thousands of women being able to safely avoid harrowing cancer treatment.

The Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) said there is not enough evidence to support a Medicare rebate for the test that can indicate whether a woman or man with breast cancer might benefit from chemotherapy treatment.

“MSAC advised the Minister for Health that the evidence presented for Oncotype DX did not give the Committee confidence that the test would identify those patients who could safely avoid chemotherapy or those patients who would benefit from adding chemotherapy,” it said in its report.

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is disappointed the test has been rejected, urging the companies supplying these tumour profiling tests to get together with the Australian Government to find a way forward.

 “Women and men with breast cancer want to get the very best treatment, however not at all costs. If we can identify those people who will do just as well without chemotherapy, it is essential that we save them from that over treatment,” said BCNA CEO, Kirsten Pilatti.

“Chemotherapy has a significant influence on a person’s life both during treatment and even well after their treatment has finished, ranging from being unable to continue in paid work during treatment through to long-term cognitive side effects.”

Without a Medicare rebate the Oncotype DX test costing Australians up to $5,000, which BCNA knows is out of reach for many. This test is widely available in the US and BCNA wants to see Australians have access to this important diagnostic tool.

BCNA will continue to advocate for these type of tests which may provide important information about the risk of a recurrence and help guide treatment decision making.

For more information on Oncotype DX visit the My Journey online tool article on genomic testing (tumour profiling) at https://www.myjourney.org.au/article/2181