Gold 90.5FM “Ask The Expert” by DJ Jamie Yeo
Part 1 On-Air Interview
Jamie: This week our expert is Dr Melvin Look a surgeon specializing in gastrointestinal surgery from PanAsia Surgery. Hi, Dr. Look welcome to the Gold 90.5 studio.
Dr. Melvin: Thank you Jamie.
Jamie: Now I’ve asked you here to talk about something that’s quite unknown but we saw an example of it when Angelina Jolie went for a series of surgeries. We’re talking today about cancer genomics screening. What exactly is it and who should go for?
Dr. Melvin: Cancer genomics screening is actually a tests that has come about quite recently or rather recently that is clinically available to all for daily usage is actually a test to look for multiple cancer related genes that you may have if you’re a family history of cancer.
Jamie: So obviously in Angelina’s case, she had a history of it in a family is so she went for it. Is it only for people who have a history of cancer in their family though?
Dr. Melvin: No, you can actually do it in several situations. The most common situation is when you have a family history or for clinical situation where it’s very unusual for example a young person having cancer, these other situations where we suspect there may be a cancer family gene and we have advice testing.
Jamie: And of course you can go for it if you “kiasu”.
Dr. Melvin: Yes, you’re right the ideal situation. Secondly, if you don’t have a family history but you don’t know your family history. For example, you may be adopted or you don’t have the extensive family to begin with to really for us to trace the family or if you’re paranoid about cancer and you really want to know and you can afford to doing this test.
Jamie: OK, we’re talking to Dr. Melvin Look who is you know explaining to us what cancer genomics screening is all about. We’ll find out from him what the whole process is like in just a bit.
Part 2 On-Air Interview
Jamie: Dr. Melvin Look is our expert today he is a surgeon specializing in gastrointestinal surgery and he’s from PanAsia Surgery. We’re talking about cancer genomic screening today, basically screening for D.N.A. in us that makes it predisposed to certain types of cancer right, Dr. Look.
So can I know what the whole process of the screening is like?
Does it take one hour or do we have to take a leave or a whole week leave to do it?
Dr. Melvin: OK, the test is very very simple. It’s a blood test, we take 10ml of blood and send it to the lab, and it’s done in overseas. We will get the results in maybe couple weeks.
Jamie: OK, yeah but the whole process takes more than just a blood test.
Dr. Melvin: First we have to understand what tests we’re looking for. For example, if you have a family history of breast cancer then the genes are a bit different. The multiple genes we look for is a bit different from the person who has a family history of colon cancer for example.
Jamie: I see, so when you send it to the lab, you are searching for different things.
Dr. Melvin: But there is also what we called the expanded panel where we’d really don’t know what we’re looking for, and we need to do really extensive tests that cover maybe forty over genes that associated with cancer or known to be associated with cancer.
On top of that, the family tree that we need to look for. We also need to do a lot of pre testing counseling.
So, we need you to understand what this test is about. What the implications of a positive test are. And also for you to consider whether you really want to do this test. Some people may not want to know.
Jamie: That’s true; I don’t know what I want to know.
Dr. Melvin: It’s just an analogy would be like knowing that you have a time bomb. If you know that you carry this gene, you would know or you feel like you’re walking around with a time bomb somewhere.
But I always tell the patients or the person that, it is good to know where the time bombs are. For example, if you carry this particular gene, and you know that it’s for breast cancer and colon cancer and pancreatic cancer. These are the areas will be actively doing surveillance and in certain cases we may even take preemptive surgery or a corrective treatment. And also the other benefit of knowing whether you have this gene or not, is that you can actually look for it in the rest of your family and try to manage that.
Jamie: We’ll come back and talk about the success rate of this screening in just a bit but it’s really nice to have you here once again is Dr. Melvin Look, a surgeon specializing in gastrointestinal surgery from PanAsia Surgery for Ask the Expert today.
Part 3 On-Air Interview
Jamie: We’re speaking to Dr. Melvin look he’s a surgeon specializing in gastrointestinal surgery for PanAsia Surgery and we have been talking about cancer genomic screenings, very interesting stuff. Once again briefly tell us what cancer genomics screening is all about again.
Dr. Melvin: It’s basically a blood test to tell us whether you have a family gene that codes for cancer.
Jamie: And we were just joking off-air that if you’re going to go for this test maybe make sure you’re insured first.
Dr. Melvin Look: Of course, it’s not a joke because we actually take that as part of the counseling that we really want to know the implications and whether once you know that but there you have to see what actions are going to take. Some people do preemptive action if you’re going to find that you have cancer a family gene. You might find that you’re not going to be easy to be insured.
Jamie: What is the success rate of this cancer genomic screening?
Dr. Melvin: It’s actually very accurate for all the known genes that all the genes that we know of that are associated with genetic risk of cancer. So it’s very accurate you will come back with either one of three results.
First is a positive result. So, what there’s a positive result mean? It means that you carry that gene.
The second answer is you can be negative for the genes that coat for that cancer but that does not mean that you will not get this cancer or that cancer. As we have mentioned before you know most cancers arise out of accidents. So you can still get an accident. So you can your risk will be like anyone else on the street. But it does not mean you are not getting cancer. So that’s something we try to really emphasize.
The third possibility is that you come up with what we call you have a variant of the unknown significance of VUS.
Jamie: OK, that’s sounds quite vague.
Dr. Melvin: So you have an abnormality in one of the cancer genes but that particular abnormality, we don’t really know what it does. Unless we get further information in the future. We know that you have that gene but the risk of you getting whatever it’s cancerous, we are not that sure.
Jamie: OK, just for the benefit of someone who’s tune in right now who is thinking of doing this. How much roughly is the cost.
Dr. Melvin: It depends on the lab that we send it to but in the ballpark figure maybe between two thousand to four thousand dollars SG.
Jamie: OK, well so you know it’s fair enough because considering is your health.
Dr. Melvin: You know it’s also depending on the panel that specific tensile panel that we’re looking for.
Jamie: OK, thanks very much Dr. Melvin Look. It was very informative for sure maybe one day I’ll go for the screening.
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