The Unbearably Slow Adoption of Genetic Cancer Tests

Actress Angelina Jolie listens as Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about the plight of refugees on World Refugee Day at the State Department in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX2H9YY
Discovering genes that increase the risk of tumors is one thing—but actually using that knowledge to help people is another.

Over the past 20 years, Nazneen Rahman has identified a steady stream of genes that influence the risk of breast, ovarian, and childhood cancers—work that has earned her scientific, popular, and even royal acclaim. But her latest accomplishment, and one of her proudest, is very different.

Rahman has created a shortcut in the British healthcare system that will give women with ovarian cancer access to a critical genetic test. The results will provide them with important information about their particular tumors, ensure that they get the best possible treatment, and perhaps even prevent cancers in their close relatives. And as the icing on the cake, the new pathway is cost-efficient, saving time and money as well as lives.

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