Sunday 20 October 2019

Extra clinic to cope with tests for 'Jolie' gene

Eilish O'Regan and Michael Brennan

An extra public hospital clinic is to be set up to cope with the demand for women to be tested for the faulty gene which led actress Angelina Jolie to have a double mastectomy.

A spokeswoman for the national cancer service in the HSE said the clinic is to open in Cork University Hospital in the coming months.

It will provide testing for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations which can increase a woman's chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

She told the Irish Independent that the setting up of two genetic testing clinics in St James's and the Mater hospitals in Dublin had led to a 30pc rise in the number of patients being seen and assessed.

The expansion of the clinics was already planned for in advance of the actress's revelations this week.

The Mater and St James's clinics assessed and tested almost 200 women with breast and ovarian cancer for the BRCA faulty genes last year.

The waiting times for some women can run into 18 months before they get the test in the public hospital system.

It costs around €1,400 to have it done privately.

Ms Jolie's decision to remove both her breasts – rather than opt for regular screening – has raised awareness of the risk some women face because of their inherited genes.

The Irish Cancer Society revealed that the revelations by Jolie saw a surge in calls to its helpline.

Helpline

"On a normal day the Irish Cancer Society's National Cancer Helpline (Freefone 1800 200 700) would get approximately 70 calls. Yesterday we got 151," said a spokeswoman.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail that women who have a high risk of breast cancer like the Hollywood actress can seek a priority referral for screening from their GP.

Irish Independent

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