Cancer: Screening

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 6th December 2018.

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Photo of Lord Freyberg Lord Freyberg Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord O'Shaughnessy on 27 November (HL11452), what was the average turnaround time from sample collection to clinical report for Genomic England's somatic whole genome sequencing for cancer patients in the last six months; what is the most clinically useful timeframe from sample collection to clinical report for such genome sequencing; and how many cancer patients in Genomic England's programme have died to date without receiving their clinical report.

Photo of Lord O'Shaughnessy Lord O'Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Following reengineering of tumour provision to fresh tissue supply and creating 300 pathways for tumour supply across the 13 NHS Genomic Medicine Centres (GMCs), Genomics England has continued to work with the National Health Service to improve throughput over the life of the programme.

Over the past six months, the average (median) turnaround time for cancer cases from enrolment to return of analysis was 39 working days. For fast-tracked and clinically urgent cases, this average over the last six months is 25 working days. By September 2018, Genomics England were returning samples at scale in 20 days or less demonstrating the improvements in the majority of cases received.

The most clinically useful timeframe depends on each individual patient’s clinical circumstances. As the 100,000 Genomes Project is a research programme, patients were all offered the NHS standard of care for their condition, in addition to Whole Genome Sequencing, so their therapy could proceed as rapidly as needed. During the 100,000 Genomes Project about half of the cancer cases in the Project contained actionable findings identifying a potential targeted therapy or clinical trial opportunity.

To date, 5,801 participants results have been returned to NHS GMCs (some participants have multiple reports). In total, 506 participants in the 100,000 Genomes Project, many of whom had advanced disease at the time of enrolment, died before Genomics England returned a whole genome analysis to the NHS. Of these, 176 were participants who died before their DNA samples were received by Genomics England. In many cases the deceased cancer participants became part of the Project via consent by a nominated representative, relative or friend because of the value for research to help others even though it was too late for the individual concerned.

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