Support for breast cancer patients

From 1 November, the Morrison Government will make Medicare rebates available for positron emission tomography (PET) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for those with, or suspected of having, breast cancer.

These new Medicare rebates will ensure patients with advanced breast cancer can better manage and plan their treatment.

PET scans

Around 12,000 patients will benefit from PET scans each year.

In 2019, the estimated number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed will be greater than 19,300 and more than 3,000 women are expected to die from the disease.

Enormous strides in medical research, diagnosis, treatment and care means the chance of surviving at least five years is now 91 per cent.

The listing of the whole body 18F-FDG2 PET scan for the evaluation of breast cancer boosts efforts to improve the health outcomes for breast cancer patients.

With the Medicare subsidy, the PET scans – a minimally invasive nuclear medicine imaging technique – will save women up to $1,000 per scan.

The new services are:

  • Whole body PET performed for the staging of locally advanced (Stage III) breast cancer (Item 61524)
  • Whole body PET performed for the evaluation of suspected metastatic, or suspected locally or regionally recurrent, breast carcinoma (Item 61525).

The independent expert Medical Services Advisory Committee recommended the listing of these new items.

The committee recommended the new services on the basis that they are comparatively safe, clinically appropriate and cost effective.

MRI scans

Approximately 14,000 patients each year, predominantly women, will benefit from these MRI scans.

Medicare rebates will be available for MRI scans for:

  • Diagnosis of breast cancer in patients where other imaging was inconclusive and a biopsy has not been possible; and
  • Pre-surgical planning for patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, where there is discrepancy between clinical assessment and conventional imaging assessment.

The Morrison Government has added these new MRI services to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to ensure women vulnerable to breast cancer have affordable access to MRI.

The new items for breast MRI will reduce the out-of-pocket costs faced by breast cancer patients. The Government will provide $32.6 million for Medicare benefits for the services.

 

The Morrison Government is strongly committed to reducing the toll of breast cancer on Australians and their families.

Early detection is key, and for many years now, Australian women aged between 50 and 74 have been invited to access free screening mammograms every two years via the BreastScreen Australia Program.

The Federal Government continues to list the latest proven treatments for breast cancer on the PBS.

In May, Ibrance® (palbociclib) was listed for patients with inoperable or metastatic hormone receptor positive breast cancer.

Around 3,000 women each year will benefit from this decision. Without the PBS subsidy, Ibrance would cost around $55,000 for a year’s treatment.

The Morrison Government is committed to delivering a healthier Australia, and supporting Australians when they need it most.

Every woman should learn about these to understand her own risk. Information is available on the Cancer Australia’s website: https://breastcancerriskfactors.gov.au