4 November 2013 – First MammaPrint FFPE test on Australian patient.
Dr Guy Hingston
Dr Guy Hingston, cancer surgeon, presented the results today of the first MammaPrint test performed on an Australian patient to the woman concerned. The patient, who does not want to be named, was pleased to be the first woman in Australia to benefit from this new technology, with cancer tissue sent prepared as Fixed Formalin Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) tissue.
MammaPrint is a new gene expression profile test which has been performed on around 30,000 women in North America and Europe since its introduction in 2002. This new test has been shown to reliably help determine the risk of recurrence of breast cancer. It works by analyzing 70 genes looking for the underlying mutations in the actual breast cancer cells. This molecular ‘signature’ is detected using new gene expression profiling microarray technology.
Patients receive either a low or high risk report, based on a complicated analysis of 70 of their cancer tumour cell genes. This test is not yet physically able to be performed in Australia, so a tissue block from the patient is couriered to the USA to perform this analysis. The out of pocket cost to the patient is currently $USD4,200. A family member paid for Australia’s first patient to undergo this test, as she was not able to afford it herself. However, women can now get a clear answer as to whether their cancer is likely to return or not, enabling them to make informed decisions about other treatments following cancer surgery like adjuvant chemotherapy.
For the first time we can reliably use this new technology to help our patients choose the right treatments. We are delighted with this new form of breast cancer investigation and are now looking at ways of making this new test more readily available for women in Australia who have a new diagnosis of breast cancer.