What testing options are available in South Africa?
Technical advances in the field of genomics have led to new technologies that can interrogate vast sections of your DNA, enabling the testing of complete genes, using next-generation sequencing (NGS) approaches. These tests are designed to test the patients inherited (germline) as well as tumour tissue DNA (somatic) to detect genetic differences. This technology and approach paves the way for individualising treatment options for those affected.
Scientists in South Africa have the ability and expertise to perform most of the important genetic tests including, and not limited to, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These tests are available in both the private and public sectors in South Africa.
These tests provide information on whether you have a genetic defect (mutation) that can be passed on to the next generation. This does not necessarily mean that those with the defect will develop cancer, but they are at an increased risk.
In the case of testing tumour tissue, the information will provide your clinician with guidance of how to effectively treat your tumour and you.
Do medical aids reimburse genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer?
Depending on your medical aid scheme and enrolment, genetic testing involving the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may get reimbursed with the necessary preapproval and motivation from your healthcare professional. At this stage other tests are paid for out of medical savings, although we are working with medical aids to have these tests authorised as standard practice.
MEET OUR EXPERT – Dr Nico de Villiers
Dr Nico de Villiers (PhD) is the operations director at Nova Genetics, with more than 25 years’ experience in the field of human genetics designing genetic diagnostic tests including
We all vary in our responses to medication (drug absorption, metabolism, distribution, and excretion). This is determined by our genes. Some people respond well, while others fail to respond at all, and some develop serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects.
We also vary in our response to new medication, such as chemotherapy, as a result of drug-drug interactions (medication we are already taking as a result of a pre-existing condition).
Furthermore, our lifestyle choices (smoking, alcohol, diet, juice drinks, leafy greens and many others) may affect the activity of certain medications that have been proposed for your cancer.
We have recently launched our flagship products – Nova Static and Nova Live. We have two reports: Our STATIC report which looks at the patient at the time point of testing. It does not consider future regimens of medication, or changes in lifestyle. The Nova LIVE report is unique in that it factors in all three elements: genes, drugs and lifestyle. We strive to look at the individual as a whole, to make your chemotherapy journey easier and more effective.
Currently, medicine uses a one-size-fits-all approach, which means that everyone gets a standard dose, without consideration that EVERY single person has a unique genetic make-up, which has been inherited half from mother and half from father. By examining the 299 drugs that may be affected by your genes, there is now an opportunity to practice PERSONALISED, PRECISION MEDICINE – the right drug, at the right dose at the right time, with a report specifically based on your unique genetic profile. This brings together the science of drugs and the science of genes.
MEET OUR EXPERT – Dr Andrew Macleod
Dr Andrew Macleod has been a GP for 38 years, during which he has seen drug toxicity and lack of efficacy repeatedly. He is excited at the prospect of being able to teach colleagues and patients alike. He is now the medical director at Nova Genetics in Cape Town.
Who can assist you in your health journey?
You can call our support line on 021 100 5624 or e-mail – email@example.com
for access to a geneticist, medical doctor or genetic counsellor who will advise on the appropriate testing options available for you and your family.
In the case of tumour tissue testing for appropriate treatment options an oncologist will guide you on available tumour biomarker tests to individualise your health journey.