Elstree Cancer Centre

The Jolie Effect

3rd June 2013

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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 Bushey Hospital and BreastHealth UK are collaborating to open one of the first private clinics for genetic counselling and testing, backed by a leading group of private breast consultants, based at their Elstree Cancer Centre.

Carriers of BRCA 1&2 genes have up to 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer1. The BRCA 1&2 genes can be identified with a saliva 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 6-8 weeks to get the gene test result.

In addition to the comprehensive BRCA 1&2 gene test, Spire Bushey 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 population2). 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 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 professionalsand is a mentor to genetic counsellors. She has worked with numerous specialists in the identification of individuals at risk of hereditary cancer and has published in the field of genetics. She previously led the cancer genetics department at Stamford Hospital in the US and launched the first colorectal cancer registry in the state of Connecticut3.

Mrs Vicki Lyus, Genetic Counsellor, BreastHealth UK, says: ‘The opening of the Genetic Counselling and Testing Clinic at Elstree Cancer Centre 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. Working for both BreastHealth UK and the NHS offers me the ability to help an increasing number of women and men who want to know more about the cancer risk in their family and potentially have genetic testing.’

Mr Muhamed Al-Dubaisi, Consultant Breast Surgeon, adds: ‘We are delighted to be working with Mrs Vicki Lyus to offer the best possible care for women with an increased risk of breast cancer. For these women Spire Bushey Hospital can offer a range of management options including surgical intervention with immediate breast reconstruction where indicated. With the implementation of the Genetic Counselling and Genetic Testing Clinic, Spire Bushey aspires to be one of the leading private breast units in the country.’

For further information please visit: www.spirehealthcare.com

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