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Cut waits for cancer genetic tests

08 December 2009

Dr Rachel IredaleDr Rachel Iredale

A University cancer genetics expert has called for greater investment in genetic testing services in Wales in a bid to prevent patients waiting up to three years for a vital cancer genetic test.

Dr Rachel Iredale, a Senior Research Fellow from the University’s Institute of Medical Genetics, School of Medicine, told an Assembly briefing today (Tuesday 8th December) that the strain of a three year wait for cancer genetic testing is adding additional stress on people already deeply worried about their inherited cancer risk.

Dr Iredale, School of Medicine, said: "The Cancer Genetics Service for Wales performs an invaluable all-Wales service offering advice, counselling and when appropriate, genetic testing to patients worried because of a family history of the condition.

"However, the service lacks investment. In the whole of Wales, the genetics laboratory is funded to do about 60 tests per year which means patients can wait up to three years for their test results. This is in sharp contrast to the service in England, where patients can receive their genetic test results in just eight weeks".

Dr Iredale is leading research into the best ways of delivering cancer genetic services for patients and argues that greater investment and increased capacity would help reduce long waiting times and help relieve stress on patients.

Dr Iredale said: "My research is demonstrating that patients at the Cancer Genetics Service for Wales think the service is fantastic but find it very difficult living with the stress of a long wait.

"There is a desperate need for greater attention to be focused on the needs of the service and for greater investment and additional capacity to prevent Wales’ long waits."

Dr Iredale made her call during a regular University briefing held at the National Assembly for Wales and hosted by the Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for Cardiff Central, Jenny Randerson AM.

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