World Cancer Day and launching an inquiry into genomic medicine

This week in Parliament I’ve been proudly wearing my Unity Band in support of World Cancer Day, which takes place each year on 4th February.

We all know someone who has had cancer, and I welcome the commitments in the NHS Long-Term Plan to increase the number of people diagnosed with cancer at stage 1 or 2 to 75 per cent by 2028, ensure 55,000 more people each year survive cancer for at least five years after diagnosis, and the launch of Rapid Diagnostic Centres across the country to transform diagnostic services and improve patient pathways.

The NHS Funding Bill will increase support for the National Health Service, with an annual boost of £33.9 billion by 2023-24. During the House of Commons debate on this legislation last month I spoke about the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer which I founded and chair.

Now the Group has been reconstituted following the General Election, we’re continuing with our inquiry into genomic medicine in blood cancer. We’ve put out a call for evidence which is open until 16th March. Genomics is the study of the genome; all 3.2 billion letters (or ‘bases’) of a person’s DNA. There are around 20,000 genes within a person’s genome, these are akin to the instructions for making the proteins our bodies are built from.

Genomic medicine will provide benefits to both the biomedical research community and individual patients; potentially offering a more accurate diagnosis, and in turn, appropriate treatments and access to clinical trials.

The NHS will be the first healthcare system in the world to systematically introduce whole genome sequencing into routine healthcare.

In order to ensure blood cancer patients can make the most of the benefits afforded by genomic medicine we need to ensure the new Genomic Medicine Service is fit for purpose and integrated seamlessly into the wider NHS. This’ll be one of the key areas of the inquiry’s focus, which will have patients and their support networks at its heart.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
01293 934554/020 7219 7043