Understanding the Genetic causes of Cancer

This week Media Studio has completed the production of a video for patients and families, giving a detailed explanation of the known genetic factors in breast or ovarian cancer. The video will be used to support the genetic counselling service at CUH by helping patients to understand the choices available for screening where there is a possibility that they carry mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The project was led by Principal Genetic Counsellor, Amy Taylor, and the production was funded by a grant from ACT.

Family tree diagram showing individuals affected by cancer

Over 50,000 women in the UK are diagnosed each year with breast cancer and although around 78% of sufferers survive for at least ten years breast cancer is responsible for 11,000 deaths annually*. Sometimes, a patient's family history reveals a pattern, or cluster, of closely-related people who've been diagnosed with cancer and this can give rise to suspicion that in these individuals there is a genetic cause to the cancer. In such cases a genetic test can be carried out to look for a mutation in one of the genes known to be affected, but it is vitally important that patients have a full understanding of the implications of such tests and the choices available to them.

Photo - Genetics counselling doctor and patient

The video uses easy-to-follow animated graphics and a simulated patient consultation and is divided into chapters to make it easier to watch in easily-digestible sections. This allows patients to view sequences as many times as necessary to get to grips with the more difficult concepts.

*Source: Cancer Research UK