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.

These pages contain information for GMC staff about the cancer programme including; sample handling guidance, eligibility statements, example whole genome analysis and latest updates on our experimental work.

Why we include Cancer


Cancer can be described as a genomic disease. It is caused by changes to DNA which lead to cells dividing uncontrollably. By comparing the DNA sequence from a patient’s tumour and healthy cells, we can provide insight into the exact nature and genomic changes that are associated with an individual’s cancer. The results can be used by clinicians to help with both diagnosis and treatment choice. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) can also begin to show which patients are unlikely to respond to a particular treatment – saving unnecessary medication and toxic side effects.

Genomics is helping to deliver precision medicine – with a real impact on patients and their health outcomes. By the end of the programme we expect to return WGS results to participants in a clinically meaningful timescale. During the early stages, most patients taking part will not benefit personally. But taking part will improve our understanding of cancer and improve care for the future.

Clinical Trials

With the establishment of biopsy pathways this will also enable co-recruitment to cancer clinical trials and studies such that whole genome sequencing may further inform the translational arms of co-recruiting studies. We do not envisage a conflict and support co-recruitment to studies at the discretion of the consenting clinicians and clinical research team.

We would also encourage parallel recruitment to the 100,000 Genomes Project alongside unrelated clinical studies (excluding those that include whole genome sequencing) to facilitate efficient use of resources to enhance overall recruitment of patients to clinical studies. This aligns with the BRC strategy to establish genome friendly handling of tissue for NIHR/NCRN adopted studies to enable further translational work.

Information for GMC Staff