Gene Testing Financial Assistance Program

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Gene Testing Financial Assistance Program

Gene testing can identify mutations in genes. The results of the genetic test can be used to assist doctors in designing a personalized treatment for the patient 1. However, the cost of gene testing may place further financial burden on patients. The “Gene Testing Financial Assistance Program” is now open for application to patients in needs. Eligible applicants will be granted a fixed subsidy of $4000 to each applicant.

 

What is PIK3CA?

Discovered in the 1980s, PIK3CA is a gene that is involved in cell growth and death 2,3. PIK3CA is like a gas pedal of a moving car. When the gas pedal is jammed, the car loses control. The PIK3CA mutation is like the jammed gas pedal. When it happens, cells grow uncontrollably, which can lead to cancer 3. Breast cancers are commonly categorized into three subtypes based on the status of hormone receptor (HR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) 4. Recently, scientists discovered that different genetic mutations have a direct impact on patient outcomes. Among them is the mutation of the PIK3CA gene commonly found in HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer.

 

What should you know about PIK3CA?

  1. PIK3CA mutations are common genetic abnormalities in breast cancer. Almost one in four patients with breast cancer carry these mutations 5,6.
  2. Compared with those without the mutations, patients carrying the PIK3CA mutations respond poorer to chemotherapy and may develop resistance to hormone therapy 7,8. There is also an increased risk of the cancer spreading from the breast to the brain 9.
  3. Testing for PIK3CA mutations can guide doctors to develop a personalized treatment plan for you.

 

Testing for PIK3CA mutations

  1. Who should participate in PIK3CA mutation testing?

PIK3CA mutations occur in approximately 40% of patients with HR+/HER2– advanced breast cancer 6. If you have been diagnosed with HR+/HER2– advanced breast cancer, it may be useful to discuss testing for PIK3CA mutations with your doctor.

  1. When should you test for PIK3CA mutation?

Testing is appropriate when patients with HR+/HER2– breast cancer are first diagnosed in the advanced stage or after initial treatment has stopped working 10.

  1. How to perform PIK3CA mutation testing?

Tissue biopsy – a procedure where tissue samples are extracted from the tumor and tested for PIK3CA mutations; or

Liquid biopsy – a test that looks for PIK3CA mutations in cancer cells or tumor DNA that are circulating in the blood.

 

For further information, please refer to “Gene Testing Financial Assistance Program Leaflet”. If interested please download and complete the “Gene Testing Financial Assistance Program Application Form”. Applicants should submit the completed application form, attached with the signed “Doctor Referral Letter” by the doctor-in-charged and relevant supporting documents, to Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation Breast Cancer Support Centre.

 

Gene Testing Financial Assistance Program Leaflet

Doctor Referral Letter

Gene Testing Financial Assistance Program Application Form

 

Application process overview

  1. Obtain a signed “Doctor Referral Letter” by the doctor-in-charged and a test receipt issued by the doctor or hospital-in-charged.
  2. Complete the “Gene Testing Financial Assistance Program Application Form”, attach the referral letter and official receipt of the gene mutation test. Submit the three documents in person to Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation Breast Cancer Support Centre.
  3. Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation will use the information to decide if the patient qualifies to participate in the Program. Eligible applicants will be contacted for further arrangements.

 

 

 

References:

  1. André F, et al. Alpelisib for PIK3CA-Mutated, Hormone Receptor-Positive Advanced Breast Cancer. N Engl J Med 2019;380:1929-1940.
  2. Whitman M, et al. Type I Phosphatidylinositol Kinase Makes a Novel Inositol Phospholipid, phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate. Nature 1988;332:644-646.
  3. Samuels Y, Waldman T. Oncogenic Mutations of PIK3CA in Human Cancers. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 2010;347:21-41.
  4. Seung SJ, et al. A population-based analysis of breast cancer incidence and survival by subtype in Ontario women. Curr Oncol 2020;27:e191–e198.
  5. The Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation. Hong Kong Breast Cancer Registry Report No. 11 (Issue 2019). Available at: https://www.hkbcf.org/en/our_research/main/468/upload/category/468/self/5d939ba37488f.pd f (Accessed November 2020).
  6. Cancer Genome Atlas Network. Comprehensive Molecular Portraits of Human Breast Tumours. Nature 2012;490:61-70.
  7. Brown KK, Toker A. The phosphoinositide 3-kinase pathway and therapy resistance in cancer. F1000Prime Rep 2015;7:13.
  8. Miller TW, et al. Hyperactivation of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase promotes escape from hormone dependence in estrogen receptor–positive human breast cancer. J Clin Invest 2010;120:2406-2413.
  9. Fitzgerald DM, et al. Association between PIK3CA mutation status and development of brain metastases in HR+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer. Ann Oncol 2019;30:v110(suppl 5).
  10. Van Poznak C, et al. Use of biomarkers to guide decisions on systemic therapy for women with metastatic breast cancer: American Society of Clinical Oncology clinical practice guideline. J Clin Oncol 2015;33:2695-2704.