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Cancer concerns 'justified'

15th June 2007

A study by Macmillan Cancer Support has shown that more than 50% of people who are worried about a family history of cancer should be concerned.

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Genetic tests showed that 55% of people who were concerned had more risk of cancer than the general population. The charity called for more services offering this type of genetic screening to be made available.

Tests were done on more than 2,000 subjects in pilot centres in England. Particular kinds of cancer, including breast, ovarian, bowel, uterus and stomach cancer, have been shown to have a genetic link. Specific genes are known to be associated with cancer, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes linked with breast cancer.

Glyn Purland of Macmillan said the results demonstrated "a real need for developing further genetic screening services that offer risk assessment and support services for people with a family history of cancer."

He said that being able to spot people who had a family history of cancer meant they could be given support and have the type of targeted testing which could possibly "prevent cancer or detect it early on."

Cancer tsar Professor Mike Richards said that the NHS were making plans for genetic screening services. He said: "We now need to ensure that the learning from the pilots is rolled out into routine NHS services."




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