THOSE who are concerned they may have a cancer-linked gene mutation in the family will have access to a genetic oncologist visiting Orange this month.
Dr Hilda High practises at Sydney Cancer Genetics and holds telehealth consultations through the McNamara Street Specialist Centre.
Following changes to testing criteria, she will hold a free talk on Monday, March 21, at Orange Ex-Services’ Club, for cancer patients and anyone interested in cancer risk.
She said about 25 per cent of cancer risk was hereditary and any type of cancer could be linked to a genetic fault, however, gene mutations were only responsible for 3 per cent of bowel cancers and between 2-5 per cent of breast cancers.
She also said a high cancer risk due to a gene mutation in one person did not necessarily pass on to family members.
“If their children haven’t got it, they go back to average risk and normal screenings,” she said.
Dr High said while testing was not as expensive as it used to be, it was still $1000 to test for the BRCA gene and $850 for other genes, however, once the gene mutation’s presence was established it only cost $250 for other family members, and other tests, like the one for triple negative breast cancer, had become publicly-funded for women diagnosed younger than 50.
“That’s because there’s a 10 per cent chance it was caused by a genetic mistake,” she said.
Dr High said bulk-billed telehealth sessions had made a significant difference to the 35 families she had seen in Orange because it was easier for multiple family members and GPs to sit in on the appointment.
McGrath Foundation breast care nurse Sue Kuter said she hoped the talk would ease anxiety for people who thought they might be at risk of cancer and wanted to have certain organs removed.
“Some people have genetic mutations, but most don’t,” she said.
“And if they do, there are things they can do to reduce the risks.”
The talk will run from 5pm to 6pm. Dr High will also conduct two other talks on March 22, one for specialists at Orange Health Service and another for GPs.
Seating for the event is limited and people interested in attending need to contact Mrs Kuter on Susan.Kuter@health.nsw.gov.au or Orange Health Service.