Henry Winter
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Genetics and cancer – a chance to find out more

Henry Winter
Posted by
02 Sep 2014

What is the impact of genetics on treatment for cancer? Who owns your samples and the information that they provide? What can molecular testing do for you?

The relationship between genetics and cancer is a complex one.  As genetic testing becomes more and more accessible there will inevitably be implications for the public.

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research scientists will be discussing the subject in a fascinating and informative talk on genetics and leukaemia at the University of Birmingham on Tuesday 9 September, as part of this year’s British Science Festival.

The panel of speakers, which includes doctors and scientists, will talk about a wide range of issues at the free event, including the rights of cancer patients and whether people actually want to know if they have genes predisposing them to cancer.There will also be a chance to put your own questions to the experts at the end.

The line-up of speakers includes: 

Christine Harrison (Professor of Childhood Cancer Cytogenetics, Newcastle University)

Professor Harrison’s expertise lies in the genetics of childhood leukaemia and she will talk about genetic testing and implications for the public. 

David Grimwade (Professor of Molecular Haematology in the Department of Medical & Molecular Genetics, King's College London and Honorary Consultant Haematologist in Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London) 

Professor Grimwade will talk about using genetic testing to monitor treatment, when to stop and start treatments and what the choices are.

Charlie Craddock (Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Professor of Haemato-oncology at the University of Birmingham) 

Professor Craddock will talk about informed consent - what patients agree to give their tissues for and what they expect in return.

The talk, entitled ‘Do you own your genes?', is free and takes place from 4pm – 5.30pm on Tuesday 9 September at Lecture Theatre S02, Poynting Physics Building, University of Birmingham

Booking is essential – to find out more and to book, visit the British Science Festival website. 



Sadly can't make this event as LP MTX. However, really would like to know why we still use Vincristine and steroid pulses in maintenance when other study's have shown only a 1% difference on outcome at 5 years.
Why if it is do ethics and politics prevent us from transferring knowledge from these reliable study's and change the standard regime on UKALL 2011 to no 4/52 pulses?
Daughter age 14 ALL C regime now on maintenance, SBR >58 liver function massively abnormal and so poorly for 10 days every 4 weeks! This for the next two years for a 1% survival rate ?

Please may I ask for a reply that doesn't refer me to Dr. Would dearly like to speak to someone involved in research .


I’m sorry for the long delay in getting back to you on your query. Unfortunately we were unable to get in touch with a doctor involved in the design of UKALL 2011 itself, but we have had a response from a researcher and doctor involved in childhood leukaemia treatment, which is summarised below:

The primary aim of the administration of pulses is a reduction in the risk of bone marrow relapse (and possibly CNS relapse), which was shown in the 1990s when disease-free survival was not as good as today. Some recent evidence has suggested that on current, more-effective protocols (e.g. in Germany) and for patients deemed 'intermediate risk', maintenance therapy without pulses may indeed be possible. UKALL 2011 needs to test (in a randomised design) and prove that it is safe for intermediate risk patients to omit the pulses on the UK-style protocol specifically, as survival rates are excellent and small changes can make a huge difference.

I hope this helps in some way. If your daughter is struggling on the treatment, you can talk to your daughter’s consultant about coming off the clinical trial at any time.