Every cancer patient could have DNA tested under five-year government plan to cut deaths

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A new era of genome-based personalised medicine could open up for cancer patients within five years under new plans unveiled by the Government’s chief medical adviser.

The “genomics dream” outlined by Professor Dame Sally Davies would see millions of patients having all their DNA tested as genome sequencing becomes as routine as MRI or CT scans.

Ultimately, the future goal is for every cancer patient to have his or her whole genome sequenced, making the procedure as standard as blood tests and biopsies.

People with rare diseases are also expected to benefit from having greater access to the technology, ending the years long “diagnostic odyssey” of multiple tests and visits to different specialists.

Whole genome sequencing involves unscrambling the entire book of genetic instructions that make us what we are, encompassing 3.2 billion “letters” of code.

Research suggests that in 60 per cent of cases, the genomes of cancer patients reveal “actionable” data – personal mutations that can shape future treatment.

Tens of thousands of NHS patients have already had their DNA mapped, but the new recommendations set out in Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally’s “Generation Genome” report aim to multiply the numbers many times over.

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.”

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