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Patients offered chance to shape inherited cancer service

21 September 2009

Patients who have benefited from an all-Wales service offering advice about the increased risk of inheriting cancer are being offered the chance to help shape future services.

The Institute of Medical Genetics at Cardiff University is holding a series of ‘Patient Panels’ in the next month offering patients the chance to have their say on how the service can be improved. The ‘Patient Panels’ are specifically for people referred to The Cancer Genetics Service for Wales (CGSW).

The Cancer Genetics Services for Wales is an all-Wales NHS service open to anyone who has had a number of family members with cancer and who are worried that they may be at increased risk of inheriting cancer.

Dr Rachel Iredale, who leads the research team at The Cancer Genetics Service for Wales, based in the University’s School of Medicine, said: "In a group of 100 people with cancer only between five and ten will have inherited a known gene that increases their likelihood of developing cancer.

"Although familial cancers are rare, for those people who have a number of family members with cancer they are often worried that they too will get cancer and it can be extremely stressful.

"This is where The Cancer Genetics Services for Wales comes in. Once a patient has been referred to us by their GP or other healthcare professionals, we are able to offer advice and support."

The first Patient Panel will take place at Cardiff University’s main Council Chamber on the 28th September and move to Swansea on the 6th October followed by Llandudno on the 22nd October.

Since the service was established twelve years ago, some 21,000 Welsh patients have accessed advice and received a range of services from risk assessment to genetic counselling and, in some cases, genetic testing.

Dr Rachel Iredale added: "Whilst it’s important that people get access to advice and support, it’s important that they get the right advice at the right time and that the services we offer meet their needs.

"For this reason we decided to get together a Panel of patients so they can help us shape the future development of The Cancer Genetics Service for Wales.

"We hope these panels will enable us to improve the way the service is run and will help patients tell us their stories for the benefits of others."

Further information on The Cancer Genetics Service for Wales is available at: or by contacting Cardiff University’s Cancer Genetics Research team on 029 20 746731.

Cardiff School of Medicine

Cardiff University’s School of Medicine is a significant contributor to healthcare in Wales, a major provider of professional staff for the National Health Service and an international centre of excellence for research delivering substantial health benefits locally and internationally. The School’s 800 staff include 500 research and academic staff who teach more than 2,000 students, including 1,110 postgraduate students.

The School is based at the Heath Park Campus, a site it shares the University Hospital of Wales, the third largest university hospital in the UK. The School has an all-Wales role, contributing greatly to promoting, enhancing and protecting the nation’s health. A key partner in this role is the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales, with which the School is linked at all levels. This mutual dependency is illustrated by the teaching of medical undergraduates in more than 150 hospitals located in all of Wales’ health authorities. The medical curriculum followed at the

School enables students to acquire and apply knowledge, skills, judgement and attitudes appropriate to delivering a high standard of professional care. Around 300 new doctors currently graduate from the School every year and the Welsh Assembly Government has invested substantially in new teaching facilities to increase this number further.

The School is an international leader in basic and clinically applied research activities and scored highly in the most recent Government Research Assessment Exercise. School of Medicine researchers annually win tens of millions of pounds in research awards to work with Government, the healthcare industries and the charitable sector on the most pressing issues of human health. The School has six interdisciplinary research groups to draw upon its own strength in depth and the vast range of expertise available across Cardiff University. These groups are addressing cancer; health sciences research; cardiovascular sciences; genomic approaches to health and disease; infection, immunity and inflammation; metabolism repair and regeneration. The School continually invests in facilities, with major developments including the Henry Wellcome Building for Biomedical Research in Wales, the largest enterprise of its kind ever in Wales. This £11M centre contains research laboratories and facilities for patients to participate in investigations of new disease treatments.

The School has been instrumental in establishing and running many important national research initiatives including the Wales Gene Park, Wales Cancer Bank, the Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair and the Healing Foundation UK Centre for Burns Research. The Wales Gene Park is involved in biomedical research, the provision to the NHS of novel diagnostic and clinical services, knowledge dissemination, genetics and genetics education, and the successful commercialisation of innovations arising from such activities. The Wales Cancer Bank is a collaborative project involving several Welsh NHS Trusts, the universities of Bangor and Swansea and the Welsh Assembly Government and is the first population-based collection of tumour and control tissue samples in Wales. The research will help establish the causes of cancer, help identify new areas for treatment and find out the best way to care for individual patients. The Cardiff Institute for Tissue Engineering and Repair uses scientific research to solve problems which are placing a heavy burden on health services around the world, such as, eye repair, chronic wounds, kidney repair and sports injuries. The Healing Foundation UK Centre for Burns Research is a multi-million pound collaboration investigating treatments and support fort the physical and mental rehabilitation of the 14,000 people suffering severe burns in the country every year.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

Dr Rachel Iredale

Institute of Medical Genetics

Cardiff University

Tel: 029 20 746731


Dr Debbie Marsden

Institute of Medical Genetics

Cardiff University

Tel: 029 20 748920