There is a marvellous new plan to sequence every cancer patient’s DNA. Within 5 years, genome sequencing could begin for everyone suffering from cancer, which will advance our understanding of cancer, as well as improving patient survival rates.
Professor Dame Sally Davies wants patient genome sequencing to become as routine as MRI or CT scans. Cancer can frequently change, so having regular updates on its genome is crucial for effective treatment. When doctors and scientists can see exactly what they are up against, treatments become more efficient.
The current issue with diagnosing patients with rare ailments is the vast amounts of tests and specialists they have to go through which can often take years to receive a full diagnosis. The first time genome sequencing was used it cost around $1 billion and took 13 years to complete. Today this cost is reduced to £1000 and takes just one to two days. This technology is making huge strides in cancer diagnosis and it becomes more effective by the year. In 60 percent of cases, the genomes of cancer patients reveal “actionable” data – personal mutations that can shape future treatment.
Dame Sally said: “The age of precision medicine is now and the NHS must act fast to keep its place at the forefront of global science.
“This technology has the potential to change medicine forever – but we need all NHS staff, patients and the public to recognise and embrace its huge potential.
“Genomic medicine has huge implications for the understanding and treatment of rare diseases, cancer and infections.”
“My dream is that, in the end, every patient gets their genome done if they’ve got cancer.
“It’s not just their genome but its the cancer itself, and as the cancer changes over time and with treatment it will need redoing.
“But you go at it through what will give a worthwhile actionable result for the patients, and the experts will tell us.”
Genome sequencing is already being conducted in 25 regional areas, but she suggests that centralising these labs could set up a network providing equal opportunities across the nation.
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