What is the Mainstreaming Cancer Genetics Programme?

The goal of this programme is to make genetic testing part of routine cancer patient care.

Knowledge of a person’s genetic make-up can be vitally helpful when treating cancer. Genetic tests can provide information about the cause of the cancer and can aid decisions about the best treatments and drugs to use.

Unfortunately, cancer genetic testing in the UK is currently very restricted. The aim of the Mainstreaming Cancer Genetics programme is to use new technologies to develop a single test that can analyse all genetic information relevant to cancer, much faster and cheaper, than current methods.

We will also develop the required clinical infrastructure so more patients can have genetic testing. We will undertake education and communication, so the benefits and implications of genetic testing in cancer patients are better recognised.

The programme will directly lead to many more cancer patients being able to benefit from genetic testing. It will lay the foundations so every cancer patient can have access to genetic testing.

The programme is being led by the Institute of Cancer Research in partnership with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and is funded by the Wellcome Trust. The programme will run from 2013-2016.

Recent Posts

200 ovarian cancer patients receive ‘mainstream’ BRCA testing through oncology

Developing the infrastructure, processes and capabilities required for routine gene testing for cancer patients is a core component of the Mainstreaming Cancer Genetics (MCG) programme.

We have now fully implemented a ‘mainstream’ BRCA gene testing pathway for ovarian cancer patients at the Royal Marsden Hospital. This pathway allows patients to access BRCA testing through their routine oncology appointments. As well as being more flexible and patient-centred, this ‘mainstream’ gene testing pathway is faster and cheaper than traditional pathways, which require all patients to be referred to genetics to access testing.

200 Royal Marsden ovarian cancer patients have now received BRCA gene tests through the mainstream pathway.

Every woman with ovarian cancer offered a BRCA test chose to have testing.

A survey of women who received BRCA tests through the mainstream pathway showed that:

  • 100% (77/77) were happy they had the test
  • 99% (76/77) were happy to have the test through oncology

17% of women with ovarian cancer tested were found to have a BRCA mutation.

The genetic test results help the cancer team in deciding the best clinical management for the patient. They also provide information about the risk of future cancer, which is higher in the women with a BRCA mutation. All patients with mutations automatically have an appointment with genetics, so that the implications for themselves and their families can be discussed. Those without mutations can also have appointments with genetics should they wish to.

The mainstream BRCA gene testing pathway has now been adopted as standard practice by the Royal Marsden; all women with non-mucinous ovarian cancer are now routinely offered BRCA testing as a standard part of their care.

The MCG programme has made the full pathway and the training materials available through this site, so that other units can make use of them. We are now investigating how to further increase access to gene testing for other genes and other cancers.

  1. Consultation with UK Molecular Genetics Laboratories Leave a reply
  2. Gene testing for women with ovarian cancer Leave a reply
  3. Delivering change in cancer gene testing to benefit many more cancer patients Leave a reply
  4. ‘How Gene Testing Can Help People With Cancer’ – A Consultation with UK Cancer Charities Leave a reply
  5. 100 ovarian cancer patients benefit from BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests through new ‘oncogenetic’ pathway Leave a reply
  6. Consultation with UK cancer charities Leave a reply
  7. First 50 Ovarian Cancer patients receive BRCA tests via oncology Leave a reply
  8. Consultation with UK Cancer Genetic Centres Leave a reply
  9. Integrating Cancer Genetics into Routine Clinical Practice Information Day Leave a reply