Patients will be offered DNA tests in GP surgeries to identify those at increased risk of disease for the first time
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on The Sun.
The checks will allow doctors to pinpoint those most likely to develop cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
Medics can then offer high-risk patients healthy lifestyle advice, different drugs or more regular screening invites.
They hope to boost survival rates by spotting diseases earlier or preventing them from occurring in the first place.
The trial will be led by the Institute of Cancer Research, which will examine the entire genetic code of 1,000 people. It will report on 600 genetic changes known to be associated with diseases or how the body reacts to certain medicines.
This includes those that increase the risk of breast, ovarian, prostate and colon cancers, blood clots and high cholesterol. However, the checks will not look for genes linked to Alzheimer’s because there is no cure and the result may cause anxiety.
Nurses will ask to take a blood sample from patients who have visited their GP with any medical concerns, such as a cold.
The project will initially recruit from a private GP clinic in Chelsea, West London, before widening to some NHS surgeries.
The scheme could be rolled out nationwide if patients like the tests and doctors think they are useful in improving care.
Study leader Professor Ros Eeles said: “We’ve seen incredible progress over the last quarter of a century in identifying genetic alterations that are linked to the risk of disease, opening up the possibility to intervene early to improve patients’ health.
“Our new initiative takes cutting-edge science on the genetics of disease into a primary care setting. We hope genetic screening is practical as a way of picking up genes associated with cancer and heart disease, is psychologically acceptable to patients, and can alter the way they are managed by their GP.
“The project will give us crucial information about whether genetic screening in primary care could be feasible, and how we should go about seeking to implement it within the NHS.”
Dr Michael Sandberg, a GP at the private clinic, said: “Genetic information will help us to target and identify high-risk patients, so as to find diseases at an earlier stage and give greater precision to screening and health optimisation in general practice.”