Over the last 12 months there seems to have been a steady increase in the number of women seeking genetic counselling and gene testing. With the recent press coverage on Angelina Jolie and our patient Michelle Heaton, much national attention has been generated.
Spire Bushey Hospital and BreastHealth UK are proud to announce a collaboration which has opened one of the first private clinics for genetic counselling and testing, solidly backed by a leading group of private breast consultants based at our Elstree Cancer Centre.
Patients can now take a simple saliva test (most use blood samples) which identifies the BRCA 1&2 genes from the patient’s DNA. The test results usually take around 6–8 weeks.
As BRCA 1&2 carriers have a significantly increased risk of breast cancer, some women (like Angelina Jolie) may decide to have a risk reducing double mastectomy. This can reduce the risk of breast cancer to approximately 5% over a lifetime.
In addition to the comprehensive BRCA 1&2 gene test, Spire Bushey Hospital also provide a special test for Ashkenazi Jewish individuals who have a higher risk of having a BRCA mutation (2.5% compared to 0.2% in the Non Jewish population*). This test looks for three common mutations which are found in specific locations in the BRCA genes. This is a faster test to run, with results normally available within two weeks.
Carriers of BRCA 1&2 genes have up to 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer*. Carriers of BRCA 1&2 mutations have a significantly increased risk of breast cancer and therefore frequently make screening and treatment decisions on the basis of their genetic test results. For this reason, Spire Bushey has included in the price of the gene tests a pre and post-test one-hour consultation with a genetic counsellor at Elstree Cancer Centre. During these consultations a leading genetic counsellor will fully explain the pros and cons of BRCA testing, personal risk and what options are available, depending on the test result. After the test there is another consultation, which will explain the test results and support the patient in making an informed decision.
Spire Bushey Hospital has teamed up with BreastHealth UK’s genetic counsellor Vicki Lyus who is a registered and certified genetic counsellor. She has worked within the field of cancer genetics for seven years and is internationally known. She is currently working within the NHS as a lead principal genetic counsellor and is also an honorary clinical lecturer. Vicki teaches cancer risk assessment to allied healthcare professionals and is a mentor to genetic counsellors.
*See press release for more information