The Federal Government’s decision to list KRAS testing on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from 1 May 2012 has been welcomed by Bowel Cancer Australia.
KRAS is a genetic test required by patients to determine their eligibility of certain treatments, such as Erbitux (cetuximab). While Erbitux was listed on the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) from 1 September 2011, KRAS testing was not simultaneously listed on the MBS.
Julien Wiggins, chief executive, Bowel Cancer Australia said the decision will provide peace of mind for advanced bowel cancer patients and their families.
“To date, the cost of KRAS testing was being covered by the manufacturer of Erbitux - Merck Serono – so patients were not out of pocket. However, this was only an interim measure.”
“The Government’s decision to list KRAS on the MBS means bowel cancer patients now have long-term surety that this test will not be another financial burden for them.”
KRAS tests have become an important step in understanding the nature of an individual cancer and then tailoring a treatment plan that is most likely to be effective against that cancer type.
About 60 per cent of people with bowel cancer have a normal KRAS gene also known as ‘wild-type KRAS’ gene. This helps switch off the chain of reactions involved in uncontrolled cancer cell growth and division.
For these people, there is likely to be benefit in taking drugs such as the monoclonal antibody Erbitux which targets another part of the same chain – the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
KRAS testing is not the same as the genetic testing used in families who have an abnormally high risk of developing bowel cancer because of inherited faulty genes.
People seeking additional information about the different treatment options for advanced bowel cancer might find the target my cancer website useful.
The website helps explain why gene testing is important in determining the most effective treatment for bowel cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
It also includes practical information such as a downloadable list of questions to ask your doctor and a glossary of all those unfamiliar medical terms such as KRAS, wild type and monoclonal antibodies.
Visit the Target my cancer website now.
For more information on advanced bowel cancer and monoclonal antibodies visit the Advanced Bowel Cancer: Monoclonal Antibodies webpage.