Why is cancer in the 100,000 Genomes Project?

The 100,000 Genomes Project aims to improve cancer care for NHS patients. We aim to improve treatment and outcomes through personalised medicine.

Cancer is the UK’s single biggest killer. Over 350,000 people are diagnosed every year. Over 160,000 people die from cancer every year.

Cancer can be described as a genomic disease. It is caused by changes to DNA. The changes cause cells to divide and grow uncontrollably. Sometimes, the genomic changes are inherited from parent to child. But most of the time (about 90%) they happen naturally in cells.

We are sequencing DNA from a patient’s tumour and healthy cells. We compare the two sequences. This helps uncover the exact genomic changes causing an individual’s cancer.

This information can improve diagnosis. It can also help doctors choose treatments most likely to be effective for each person.

Improving treatment and outcomes through personalised medicine

Genomics is helping to deliver personalised medicine. It can have a real benefit for patients. Read more about personalised medicine on the Health Education England website.

By the end of the Project we aim to return whole genome sequencing (WGS) results to people in time to help with their care. The results will help clinicians with diagnosis and treatment choice. WGS can also show which patients are not likely to benefit from a specific treatment. This can save unnecessary treatments and toxic side effects.

In the early part of the Project, most people taking part will not benefit themselves. But taking part will improve our knowledge of cancer and care for the future.

More information

Transforming NHS Services

We are working to improve cancer pathology and diagnostic services across the NHS.

For NHS GMC staff

View eligibility criteria, sample handling guidance and example whole genome analysis.

Taking part

Information for patients about taking part and what it involves.

Cancer Genomics

Introduction to cancer genomics.