100 ovarian cancer patients benefit from BRCA1 and BRCA2 tests through new ‘oncogenetic’ pathway

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

To deliver this, the programme has developed an ‘oncogenetic’ gene testing pathway, which brings gene testing directly to the patient through their existing oncology appointments. Previously, patients could only have a gene test via referral to genetics departments.

The oncogenetic pathway allows members of the cancer team who have completed online training to order gene tests for eligible patients directly, but retains the flexibility to refer patients to genetics if more detailed discussions will be helpful.

Any patient found to have a gene mutation is seen by a geneticist. Those with normal results can be referred in the standard manner, if required. This represents a more patient-centred, flexible gene testing service. It also allows more people to have access to gene testing.

More than 100 ovarian cancer patients have now benefitted from BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene tests via the oncogenetic gene testing pathway developed by the programme. Formal evaluation is underway. To date the response from patients and clinicians has been very positive.

In 2013 NICE recommended people with >10% chance of having a mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene should be offered testing. This includes >10,000 cancer patients per year. However, limited capacity and high costs of traditional gene testing pathways limits the BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing doctors are currently able to provide for their patients. The oncogenetic gene testing pathway could be used to deliver the NICE recommendations cost-effectively.

This success of the pathway was communicated to the press at an event held on Wednesday 22nd January 2014. View the press release here.

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 This pilot study forms part of the programme’s ongoing implementation workstream.