Cancers including sarcoma are caused by mistakes in our genes. Studying all the genes in the body (known as genomic sequencing) can help scientists and doctors understand what’s gone wrong and might help find the right treatment.
Thanks to investment in genomics and the work of the sarcoma community, sarcoma is one of the few cancers which has a test called whole genome sequencing routinely commissioned on the NHS. This test analyses all the genes in both the sarcoma and the patient. The results can help make the correct subtype diagnosis as well as identify possible treatments.
But the service faces a number of challenges with delivering the results of genomic sequencing to doctors and patients. This is because it is a time-consuming task which requires special skills and training. There is a shortage of clinical scientists with the right expertise to analyse the genomic sequencing data. This means there is a large amount of potentially important information being wasted, and patients aren’t seeing the benefit.
How will this project tackle this challenge?
The team behind this project has vast experience with sarcoma and genetic testing within the NHS so they know what is needed to drive improvements.
To upskill the sarcoma community, the team will create a Sarcoma Network of senior scientists, clinicians across six genomic laboratory hubs, where genomic testing is carried out. The team will also recruit a new clinical scientist to train as a sarcoma genomics specialist, and this individual will also help build the network, encourage best practice and making processes more effective. The new clinical scientist being trained in sarcoma specialist will analyse whole genome sequencing and engage with colleagues at the other laboratory hubs, helping to improve turnaround time for tests and increasing knowledge and skills. They will also compare results with other types of more focussed genetic testing to see what method produces the best outcomes.
What this means for people affected by sarcoma
Improving our knowledge and efficiency of sarcoma genomics will lead to patients receiving faster and more accurate diagnoses alongside more information about their prognosis. If new mutations or treatment targets are discovered, we could also develop personalised therapies for each patient in future. The Sarcoma Network will also train the next generation of sarcoma scientists and create the environment for continuing development.
Improving our knowledge and efficiency of sarcoma genomics will lead to patients receiving faster and more accurate diagnoses alongside more information about their prognosis.