This month has seen the launch of the Mainstreaming Cancer Genetics programme. Led by the Institute of Cancer Research, in partnership with the Royal Marsden Foundation NHS Trust, the Wellcome Trust and Illumina, the three year programme aims to make genetic testing a routine part of cancer care. This will involve analysis of 96 mutations in the genome relevant to cancer causation and treatment. The programme will develop robust reporting procedures and supporting infrastructure to facilitate routine incorporation of genetic test results into clinical management.
Ethical implications will be considered and importantly, there is also a strand considering education, to promote engagement of clinicians, patients and the public. The intention is that the package will be ready for clinic use in 2014.
Programme Director Professor Nazneen Rahman stated:
“It is very important to know if a mutation in a person’s genetic blueprint has caused their cancer. It allows more personalised treatment, so for example such people are often at risk of getting another cancer and may choose to have more comprehensive surgery, or may need different medicines, or extra monitoring.”
This is an important and exciting step in mainstreaming genomic healthcare, with the aim being that oncologists access test results directly, in order to inform decisions about care and treatment. It’s also reassuring to see that ethics and education are built into the programme from the outset.