Cancer patients at Royal Surrey County Hospital are now receiving individually tailored treatment plans thanks to DNA testing.

The test analyses the genetic make-up of a patient’s tumour to determine how best it can be treated.

Testing involves extracting DNA from tumours, either via biopsies or blood tests, then analysing it using the Trust’s Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Machine.

The NGS machine is able to sequence millions of DNA fragments in a single run and identifies mutations or changes in the genetics of the patient’s tumour.

The results are then scrutinised and interpreted by the Trust’s experienced scientists within the Molecular Diagnostic department. This can take anything between 20 minutes to several hours depending on the complexity of the case.

These findings guide clinicians to select which highly targeted drugs will best treat the patient’s cancer, instead of adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

It identifies those patients in whom certain drug therapies are more likely to be successful and prevents others from being treated with powerful drugs when they are unlikely to be of benefit.

As well as helping clinicians to determine the best course of treatment, the results from the machine can also help with diagnosis and prognosis.

In the last year the team looked at the DNA of some 600 patients, working not just with clinicians at the Royal Surrey but several neighbouring Trust’s as well.

Consultant Clinical Scientist in Molecular Pathology, Nadine Collins, said: “Here at Royal Surrey we are very fortunate to be one of the few district general hospitals able to carry out genetic sequencing for our patients, it is more commonly found in the larger teaching hospitals.

“Previously, patients with the same type of cancer underwent a similar pattern of treatment, but the DNA testing we are carrying out is now helping guide clinicians on their therapy decision.”

©2019 Royal Surrey County Hospital

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