HOPES AND HYPES: THE ROLE OF GENETICS IN CANCER PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Professor Anneke Lucassen
The Royal Society of Edinburgh in partnership with the Scottish Cancer Foundation recently held this event featuring Professor Anneke Lucassen, Professor of Genomic Medicine and Director of the Centre for Personalised Medicine, University of Oxford. Chaired by Professor Malcolm Dunlop FRSE, MRC Investigator, Chair of Coloproctology, Institute of Genetics and Cancer.
Rapid technological advances in our ability to analyse a person’s genetic code have resulted in significant, helpful developments in clinical practice; optimism about further developments remains high and rightly so. Yet this can also sometimes result in a discourse too focussed on these technological achievements. One that assumes that they will seamlessly lead to clear predictions, diagnoses, or treatments and that the interplay of a myriad of other factors- socio-economic, environmental exposures or random factors- are no longer relevant. Such deterministic discourse appeals to many but leads to promises about delivery that are difficult to honour in practice.
Professor Lucassen’s talk highlighted the hopes as well as the hype around cancer genetics and used examples – arising from her clinical practice as well as her research group to illustrate where we need a more nuanced debate about the use of genetics in the prediction, prevention, and treatments of cancer. The talk was followed by a Q&A session chaired by Professor Malcolm Dunlop FRSE.