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Integrating genetic testing into routine oncology care in the UK

Dr Joslyn Ngu
04 Dec 2017

Making genetic testing mainstream, allows more patients to be tested, identifies more carriers and enables appropriate stratification of treatment and outcomes, says an expert.

Despite the many advantages of genetic testing, patients with ovarian cancer are historically under-referred, said Dr Angela George, consultant oncogenetics and clinical lead of the Cancer Genetics Unit, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, UK. The reasons for this include the failures to take family history; to recognize family history; and to refer.

The integration of genetic testing into routine oncology care requires the education of clinicians, oncologists and specialized nurses so they are well-equipped to take consent from patients for genetic testing, said George. Once patients who fit the pre-agreed criteria for testing gives their consent, healthcare professionals in the clinic can obtain the necessary blood samples and send them together with the forms to a genetics centre. This will reduce the need for patients to make additional appointments with the genetics department, which means no extra appointments and no waiting for referral, she said.

In the UK, a training programme for healthcare professionals to perform BRCA gene testing for breast and ovarian cancer is available on Youtube and a certificate of completion is provided, said George.

Ovarian cancer is a good example to showcase the benefits of mainstreaming genetic testing. An estimated 15 percent of ovarian cancer have a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation. [Sci Rep 2016;6:29506. Doi: 10.1038/srep29506]

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Most Read Articles
3 days ago
Chest pain appears to be the principal complaint of patients hospitalized with a first myocardial infarction (MI), particularly among those in the youngest age group, a study has found.
Jairia Dela Cruz, 16 Sep 2020
In patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) receiving angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, high dosing confers benefits for the risk of death or hospitalization that are similar to that obtained with lower dosing, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Pearl Toh, 3 days ago
Early and sustained treatments with simplified regimen are the key to achieving good asthma control, said experts during a presentation at the ERS 2020 Congress.
4 days ago
Women with pre-eclampsia are at higher risk of developing heart failure, a study suggests.