Genetic testing available at Spire Harpenden

08 April 2015

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 Angelina Jolie press coverage, much national attention has been generated.

Spire Harpenden Hospital and GeneHealth UK are proud to announce the expansion of their services in the opening of a new genetic clinic for genetic counselling and testing.

Carriers of BRCA 1&2 genes have up to 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer. The BRCA 1&2 genes can be identified with a blood test that looks at the client’s DNA. 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. It can take eight weeks to get the gene test result.

In addition to the comprehensive BRCA 1&2 gene test, Spire Harpenden Hospital will 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 will look 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 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 Harpenden has included in the price of the gene tests a pre and post-test consultation with a genetic counsellor. 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.

GeneHealth UK will also offer BowelGene, BreastGene and ProstateGene, which are cancer panel tests. These tests sit on the NGS platform and analyse multiple genes simultaneously, full details are available on their website

In light of the new NICE guidelines GeneHealth UK also offer a new chemoprevention service. For those clients at moderate or high risk of breast cancer, an experienced genetic counsellor will provide a detailed risk assessment and one hour consultation explaining the risks and benefits of chemoprevention

Spire Harpenden Hospital has teamed up with GeneHealth UK’s genetic director Vicki Kiesel.

Vicki Kiesel is a UK registered genetic counsellor as well as being certified in the USA. Vicki leads a team of genetic counsellors covering north London, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire at NW Thames Regional Genetics centre in the NHS. Vicki is also an honorary clinical lecturer at Imperial College London and teaches cancer risk assessment to allied healthcare professionals with Kings University. She is also a mentor to genetic counsellors.

Vicki is a medical advisor for a popular BBC drama series ensuring accurate genetic storylines. She has appeared on local health television programs in Connecticut, US and has been featured on multiple radio broadcasts.  She is involved with Ovarian Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Break through and developing the future genetic testing decision pathways.

She has worked with numerous specialists in the identification of individuals at risk of hereditary cancer and her work on genetics has been published. Vicki previously led the cancer genetics department at Stamford Hospital in the US and launched the first colorectal cancer registry in the state of Connecticut.

Mrs Vicki Kiesel, Genetic Director, GeneHealth UK said: "The opening of the Genetic Counselling and Testing Clinic at Spire Harpenden is a really positive move at exactly the right time. The understanding of genetic testing is increasing rapidly amongst scientists, clinicians and the population in general but very few clinics offer both the face-to-face counselling and state-of-the-art gene testing. Excitingly next generation sequencing now offers us the opportunity to analyse multiple genes at once and promises to be the future of genetics."

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