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Improved hereditary cancer test developed by BC Cancer researchers

Genetic testing for hereditary cancer is now more accurate with advancements made by BC Cancer researchers.

The advancements made by Vahid Akbari, Dr. Steven Jones, Vincent Hanlon and Dr. Peter Lansdorp confirm whether a cancer-predisposing gene variant is present and whether the patient inherited it from their father or mother, according to a release from UBC and BC Cancer.

Co-medical director of the Provincial Hereditary Cancer Program at BC Cancer Dr. Kasmintan Schrader says the testing allows them to identify other family members who might be at risk.

“Allowing us to focus on one side of the family will help save lives by concentrating on prevention efforts,” said Schrader.

“This new approach will eliminate the unnecessary psychological burden of needing to test family members on the other side who are not at an increased risk, reduce the need for clinical counselling and focus resources on identifying and supporting those truly at risk.”

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Jones says the approach has been enabled via long-read sequencing technology. He says it can sequence DNA and also determine subtle functional alterations.

BC Cancer says hereditary cancer is not common, with less than 10 per cent of all cancer being hereditary.

Self-referrals to the Hereditary Cancer Program are accepted if a relative has shared details about their hereditary cancer gene mutation.

To learn more about the program, information can be found on the BC Cancer website.

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