A new screening program is due to start in London looking at almost 100 genes that elevate a persons cancer risk.

The testing will be performed by the institute of Cancer Research in conjunction with The Royal Marsden hospital and will start in 2014, initially in women with breast and ovarian cancer.

Recent news about Angeline Jolie’s double mastectomy, highlighted the importance if some genes in a persons cancer risk. In particular the BRCA genes, play an important role in breast cancer and, as more recently discovered, also in prostate cancer. People with these faulty genes are more at risk of developing cancer and tend to develop more aggressive forms.

For the first time in the UK, a man with the faulty BRCA gene and a family history of aggressive prostate cancer, also had his prostate removed, as a preventative measure, despite not having any signs or symptoms of cancer. This type of preventative surgery will become more commonplace in the future.

Being tested and found positive for the faulty genes would influence the decision on how aggressively to treat a particular individual.

The new test developed by Illumina, looks for 97 genes that increase the risk for cancer.
The aim of the programme is to establish the best way for this type of testing to become the standard on the NHS, and will change the way we look at and treat cancer.