Qatar’s first high-risk genetic oncology screening clinic, located at the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR) – a member of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) – has seen an increase in the number of individuals visiting the clinic since it first opened in 2013.
The clinic, which is part of NCCCR’s Cancer Genetics and Genomics Medicine programme, is a first of its kind in the region and was established to care for those who have a higher risk of developing cancer during their lifetime due to hereditary factors. The programme is supported by a multidisciplinary team of oncology, genetic counselling, and molecular genetics laboratory specialists, as well as a number of international genetics laboratories.
Since it was established in 2013, over 2,500 patients have been assessed at the clinic, with around 60% being diagnosed with cancer. Dr Salha Bujassoum, Senior Consultant at the NCCCR and Director of the Hereditary Cancer and High-Risk Screening Program said the multidisciplinary clinic aims to identify patients at risk of developing the disease due to young-onset diagnosis, a strong family history, or a positive genetic test result.
Dr Bujassoum said:
Advances in the field of genomics and precision medicine means that the Cancer Genetics and Genomics Medicine programme is becoming a core part of the care offered to patients and their families in Qatar. This programme not only helped establish HMC as a leader and innovator in patient and family-centred care but also as a model for enhanced patient care that other countries in the Middle East can follow.’
The programme also features a number of educational meetings and research projects related to the many diverse aspects of cancer.
Dr Reem Alsulaiman, Board Certified Genetic Councilor explained that while the cancer genetics programme primarily focuses on patients at risk of developing hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, it has been expanded in recent years. She says the service now provides care to patients with a higher than normal risk of developing other types of cancers, including hereditary aetiology, such as gastrointestinal, endocrine, gynaecological, dermatological, urological, haematological, as well as a number of rare cancers.
Late last year, the initiative gained international attention when a scientific research paper highlighting Qatar’s establishment of the programme was published in the prestigious academic publication – the Molecular Genetics and Genomics Medicine Journal. The article was peer-reviewed by an international editorial board of experts in diverse areas of human and medical genetics and genomics.
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