Updated on 24 June 2013
Is gene testing for breast cancer a preventive healthcare option?
When it comes to disease susceptibility, experts claim that knowledge eventually leads to prevention. The debate revolving around gene patenting has garnered global attention from life science industry and has also raised the question - Is gene testing a form of preventive healthcare that will bring down the ever increasing healthcare costs in the long run?
A comparative analysis of the costs involved in getting genetic testing done, specifically for standard diseases like Breast Cancer (BRCA), diabetes, and cardiovascular ailments among others reveals shocking figures. The average cost of getting BRCA gene tested anywhere in the world ranges between $1,000-to- $3,000.
In Asia, even though the test has been available through several companies since the early 1990's, newer companies are coming up with more technologically advanced methods of genetic testing, in the melee, bringing down the costs considerably. However, medical experts have highlighted that the cost for BRCA testing is not even one-fourth of the total cost of treatment of breast cancer, when detected in later stages.
A standard BRCA gene test costs a little more than $3,000 in the US and so far only one company has held the official patent to test for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene presence. Comparing this to other Asian countries reveals a cost variation that is considerably huge.
While one-in-eight women in the US have a chance of developing breast cancer, in India around one-in-30 women carry this risk. In India a genetic test for BRCA would cost a patient anywhere between $1,000 (Rs 57,000) and $2,000 (Rs 1,00,000).