Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Why it’s so important to talk about genomics

Fiona Blackhall

Fiona Blackhall - Manchester Cancer clinical director of genomics and honorary consultant in medical oncology at The Christie

Earlier this month, Health Education England, through the Genomics Education Programme, launched its second annual #GenomicsConversation week.

Here in Greater Manchester, we are pledging to continue the conversation by ensuring that we work together to embed genomic medicine into our cancer pathways. It is vitally important that our whole clinical community are able to talk to patients and their family about the growing role of genomics in treatment.

Greater Manchester Cancer (our cancer alliance) has pledged their support, in our GM Cancer Plan for 2017-2021. One of the ways they are doing this is by developing a Genomic Pathway Board which will lead the adoption of genomic medicine in cancer pathways across Manchester. The board will comprise of experts from pathology, oncology, research and the Manchester Genomic Centre.

The aim is to:

-        Create road maps for clinical staff to follow with standardised procedures (from requesting a sample to delivering the report to the patient)
-        Create educational tools for patients and clinical staff to raise awareness and increase understanding of genomic testing and how it can improve outcomes for patients
-        Work to ensure all patients across Greater Manchester have equitable access to genomic testing

Following on from the incredible work of the 100,000 Genome Project, which proved that genomic testing can work in a routine clinical setting, we will work together to embed this into routine care for our patients.

The 100,000 Genome Project laid the foundations for an NHS Genomic Medicine Service which is currently being rolled out across the entire NHS. Within Greater Manchester, we will use the learnings from trials such as the 100,000 Genomes Project to bring genomic testing to the forefront of routine clinical care for our patients.

Genomic testing can help us to change the way we treat cancer by providing a more detailed diagnosis and personalising treatment for patients.

As a clinical community, working in cancer across the whole of Greater Manchester, we pledge to ensure that we utilise the potential of genomic technology to improve the health of our population.