Scottish Patients Could Receive Ground-Breaking Genetic Cancer Testing
Scottish patients could be among the first to take part in a pioneering initiative to match cancer to the most appropriate treatment through genetic tests.
Cancer Research UK's Stratified Medicine Programme aims to establish an NHS genetic testing service for cancer patients in the UK, allowing doctors to have access to the tests in order to decide which drugs are best for their patients.
Medical staff from Cancer Research UK's Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh, along with five of the charity's other centres, will ask up to 9,000 patients to participate in the first phase of the programme, covering breast, bowel, lung, prostate, ovary and melanoma skin cancer.
The research body said patients will be recruited through a network of more than 20 hospitals around the country, including Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow Western Infirmary, Edinburgh's Western General Hospital and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Patients will be asked to give consent for a small sample of their tumour to be sent to one of three NHS genetic testing labs where DNA will be analysed for a range of molecular faults linked to cancer. The information will then be stored alongside other relevant clinical information to allow researchers to compare the success of different treatments in relation to specific faults within cancer cells.
Grant Lowe, 64, of the Black Isle, near Inverness, is one of the first patients taking part in the programme. Following tests on a mole on his back, Mr Lowe was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, 1997.
Mr Lowe has been part of four different drug trials at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow and believes they have prolonged his life.
He said: "Being part of research trials has been a life saver and has given me a good quality of life which I enjoy with my family.
"I would hope this new Stratified Medicine Programme will eventually make a big difference and help develop new and improved treatments for people who are diagnosed with cancer in years to come."
Cancer Research UK, Astra Zeneca and Pfizer are funding the £5.5 million programme. The initiative is aligned with the £6 million investment from the government's Technology Strategy Board in the development of similar testing.