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‘Cut waits for vital cancer genetic tests in Wales’ says expert

08 December 2009

A leading Cardiff University cancer genetics expert will today (Tuesday 8th December) call 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.

In the past Welsh patients have waited up to three years for cancer genetic testing, which helps establish if they are carrying a cancer-causing gene, because of a lack of capacity and investment in genetic testing, the Cardiff University academic will say.

Dr Rachel Iredale, a Senior Research Fellow from Cardiff University’s Institute of Medical Genetics, will tell a briefing of AMs that the stress of a three year wait for cancer genetic testing adds additional stress on people already deeply worried about their inherited cancer risk.

Dr Iredale from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine will say: "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, who is leading research into the best ways of delivering cancer genetic services for patients, will tell AMs that greater investment and increased capacity would help reduce long waiting times and help relieve stress on patients.

Dr Iredale said: "It just doesn’t seem fair that Welsh patients wait so long for vital cancer genetic tests. 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’s briefing is part of a series of Cardiff University lectures hosted by the Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for Cardiff Central, Jenny Randerson AM. The briefings are designed to highlight key areas of academic research taking place at Cardiff University.

The briefing takes place on Tuesday 8th December at 12.30 at the National Assembly for Wales. For further information or to attend the event please contact, Chris Jones on 029 20 874731 or e-mail:

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.

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
Senior Research Fellow
Institute of Medical Genetics
Cardiff University
School of Medicine

Tel: 029 20 748925