Cancer treatment and genetics: How DNA testing is changing the landscape
Genetic testing is the analysis of your DNA – using a sample of your saliva, or sometimes blood or tissue, it’s possible to establish if you have certain gene mutations which are associated with particular diseases.
Everything Genetic Ltd provides you with pioneering, medically-validated genetic testing for cancer and heart disease. Their cancer tests can help you discover if you have a higher than average risk of getting cancer, or if you are unfortunate enough to already have the disease, can help your doctor identify the best treatment for you. They too can extend the lives of people already affected by late stage cancer. Many of our tests are covered by private health insurance.
Leading cancer expert Dr Greg Wilson is a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie Private Care and The Alexandra Hospital. His areas of expertise are breast cancer, colon cancer and liver-directed therapies for liver cancer.
Here, he talks about the importance of genetic testing: “Half the UK population will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime,” says Dr Wilson. “Since I became a consultant oncologist almost 20 years ago, surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs) have continued as the three main modes of treatment. “We often hear about new surgical techniques (e.g. robotic surgery), radiotherapy advances (e.g. proton beam), and new drugs, whether they be chemotherapy tablets, injections or immunotherapy, which stimulates the immune system to fight the cancer.
“There has, however, been a quiet revolution taking place in the field of genetics and tumour analysis. I will leave tumour analysis for another article; however, it is increasingly important to check something called ‘germline’ genetics.”
“Checking the ‘germline’ means analysing the patient’s normal genetic code looking for abnormalities,” explains Dr Wilson. “Inherited genetic mutations put a person at higher risk of developing cancer. The highest profile case was Angelina Jolie, who found that she carries the breast cancer type 1 gene mutation (BRCA1), giving an 80% and 50% lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer respectively. She elected to have her breasts and ovaries removed.
“One in eight females will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Research has shown that 8.65% of breast cancer patients carry a gene mutation. If known, such patients are recommended bilateral mastectomy rather than lump removal and radiotherapy. Different chemotherapy drugs are also recommended.
“Genetic testing is not routinely offered unless a patient has a strong family history and risk analysis is performed via specialist clinics. This takes time and patients are eligible for NHS testing only if they meet certain criteria. However, people can now choose for this to be done privately, either through their health insurance or at a reasonably affordable cost.
“In the year 2000, testing would take over a year and cost thousands of pounds. Today, a simple saliva test sent through the post will analyse 30 genes, costs under £400, and the results are back within approximately a month.”
Dr Wilson concludes, “Genetics has come a long way in 20 years, but it’s only just getting started and that is great news for everyone, especially future generations!”
Dr Wilson’s comments relate to genetics as a whole, and not specifically Everything Genetic.
For more information or to purchase a test, please call: 01270 623 179 or visit everythinggeneticltd.co.uk
Author : Emily Fitzgibbons
Editor at The Glossy Magazine | Journalist & Office Manager at Salutions Limited