Frequently Asked Questions

We have created a collection of our most Frequently Asked Questions below to aid your understanding of our services.

Pre-order

Is the Oncofocus test applicable to my cancer type?

Oncofocus is applicable to all tumour types except leukaemia.

If I have cancer, why have a genetic cancer test?

For individuals diagnosed with cancer, genetic testing can help your doctors determine the best type of targeted therapies and avoid more toxic chemotherapy. Genetic cancer testing can give your relatives information about their cancer risk.

Are Oncologica’s genetic cancer tests the same as the ones offered by the NHS?

Yes, our genetic cancer tests use the same technology as those offered through the NHS. However the NHS is under significant strain due to the pandemic and its effect on cancer services. Cancer survival rates in the UK are set to reach their lowest in 15 years, with 3 million people missing routine cancer screening appointments during the pandemic – a service which normally diagnoses around 400 cancers a week. The disruption to cancer services has resulted in a backlog in cancer screening of 3-6 months of delays to treatment.

Concerns over delays means Oncologica’s cancer tumour genetic profiling can help provide a genetic tumour blueprint for you and your doctors to aid medicine treatment choices.

How do I order the Oncofocus test?

Ordering can be requested by patients via our website or by completing our test request form and patient consent forms which are submitted to our Oncofocus Clinical Admin Team after a preliminary initial discussion appointment request with them.

Can my Clinician request the test on my behalf?

Yes

How much is the Oncofocus test?

The cost of the Oncofocus and Immunofocus Test is £1,500

What does the Oncofocus test include?

Oncofocus and Immunofocus tests include the courier costs, to ensure the samples are delivered safely and quickly, a telephone consultation with our Doctor once you have your results, and ongoing supplementary reports as requested by patients.

Do I need a biopsy?

Yes, however Oncofocus® uses the routine pathology biopsy block that has already been used to make the initial diagnosis which is held at the hospital where the biopsy was taken.

How do you get access to my records and biopsy?

We ask you to complete a patient consent form which enables us to approach the hospital on your behalf to request your reports and your samples for testing.

Do I need to come to the Oncologica Cambridge UK laboratory?

No, we use the patient’s biopsies for testing which we request from the hospital.

Do you provide the cancer treatments?

We don’t provide the cancer treatments – only identify them. Your Clinician will help you source the treatments.

Does the cost of the test include my cancer treatments?

In many cases we are able to link the targeted therapies to clinical trials which are not placebo. These are free on the NHS. Other therapies identified would need to be paid for privately.

Do I need to approach the hospital?

No, we will do all of that for you using the patient consent form.

What happens following the tests completion?

The patient receives their report via email which is password protected. Once received, the patient is required to contact the Oncofocus Admin Team to arrange a telephone consultation with our Doctor at a time which is convenient for them to discuss the results.

Do you have any reviews/testimonials?

Please look at our testimonials on our website https://oncologica.com/customer-feedback/

Can I book the test if I live outside the UK?

Yes you can, the process remains the same.

Post-order

Can I add consented contacts once I have ordered the test?

Yes, this must be requested via email from the address used to order the test. The patient’s database will then be updated with this information.

How am I kept updated during the testing process?

We maintain contact with the patient and their consented contacts throughout the process to provide regular updates on the progress.

What happens with my biopsies once the test is complete?

We will arrange for these to be couriered back to the hospital once the test is complete.

What happens if my Clinician does not action the treatments identified?

Please do let us know if your consultant is not willing to action your report as we can recommend specialists who will be able to help you. This would have to be privately funded.

Can I cancel my test once ordered and if so will I be eligible for a refund?

You can cancel the test anytime however the refund amount due to you would depend on what stage the test is currently at. This must be in writing and the refund would be paid to the account that the payment was made from.

Shipments

Do I pay for samples to be couriered to Oncologica?

No, this is inclusive of the cost of the Oncofocus test however, on occasions some hospitals charge an admin fee for retrieving the samples. If this is the case, the patient is liable for this cost.

How do my samples reach you?

Via DHL.

Results and Certificates

How do I access my results?

The results will be emailed to the patient and their consented contacts. The Oncofocus test report containing the results will be sent password protected.

How long does it take to get Oncofocus test results?

Once a patients sample has been booked inside our lab, the test process takes up to 15 working days. This excludes weekends and bank holidays.

What happens following the tests completion?

The patient receives their report via email which is password protected. Once received, the patient is required to contact the Oncofocus Admin Team to arrange a telephone consultation with our Doctor at a time which is convenient for them to discuss the results.

Billing and Payments

Do I have to pay privately for the Oncofocus test?

Yes.

Will my Insurance company cover the cost of the Oncofocus test and treatments?

This will depend on your policy. Most major health insurance companies cover the cost of our test.

Does the NHS cover the cost of the Oncofocus test?

No.

Will I receive a payment receipt?

Yes, once payment has been made a receipt will be emailed.

When is payment for the test due?

We require payment once your samples have been requested.

COVID PCR Tests

What does the Coronafocus Covid-19 PCR Travel Test Package include?

  • The kit includes a packaged self-sample swab, liquid tube, sealable bag and a set of instructions of how to complete the self-swab test correctly and prepaid envelope labels.
  • Your PCR positive/negative results are published within 24 hours of us booking your sample into the lab and are viewable in the online customer dashboard.
  • Gov.uk recommend registering with the NHS app for your COVID Pass before booking international travel or access the NHS COVID Pass via the NHS website to view, download or print.

UK Travel Testing after 4am, 18th March 2022

When you travel to England from abroad you:

  • do not need to take any COVID-19 tests before you travel or after you arrive
  • do not need to fill in a UK passenger locator form
  • do not need to quarantine when you arrive

This applies whether you are vaccinated or not.

How soon can I buy a Coronafocus PCR test before travelling?

You can buy your Coronafocus PCR tests up to 6 months before travelling. If ordered before 12pm (GMT) we will arrange dispatch of your test for next day delivery (excluding bank holidays). Once a self-sampling Coronafocus swab has been taken, it must be returned by Royal Mail 24 using the prepaid envelope in any Royal Mail priority post box located in every town or hand delivered to our Lab 24/7.

When should I order my Fit to Fly PCR?

If your flight asks for a test to be done 72 hours in advance, ensure you allow time for your test to be delivered. Please note that delivery to Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands/Islands may take 2-4 days.

Example: if flying on a Saturday, then we recommend ordering your test latest on the Tuesday before noon GMT prior to date of travel. So in order to receive and take the self-sample swab for testing on the Wednesday prior to flying, this requires return dispatch to our lab using the prepaid envelope, so that our lab receives it on the Thursday prior to flight. Results would then be available for viewing on the online dashboard, details in confirmation email on the Friday before flight. We cannot guarantee that the swab will arrive the day after postage, as this depends on the Royal Mail service which can sometimes take longer than 24 hours. This is why we recommend travellers endeavour to purchase well in advance of travel.

How does the Coronafocus self-sampling PCR test work?

Our Covid-19 PCR test looks for the presence of the virus currently in the body, it detects virus RNA in the Coronafocus self-swab sample. We extract the RNA genetic material and copy it into DNA. Now if the virus is there, it is in a DNA form. We put it into a PCR reaction (Polymerase Chain Reaction) that amplifies snippets of DNA and matches these to the viral DNA sequence.  The Oncologica Covid-19 PCR test is very specific and accurate. If our test finds it, you can believe it.

Activating PCR test kits bought on the Oncologica website.

Instructions sent on booking on the Oncologica website explain how to register and activate your PCR test kit in the online customer dashboard using the unique password sent to the booking contact and email address.

  • The date and time the swab is taken must be entered in the online customer dashboard to enable lab processing.
  • You can search for “User registration” or “Oncologica”, in your inbox or junk mail.
  • Customers who have booked through a different provider will have been given a pin code by that provider, they should enter this to activate their kit.
  • Activating your PCR test kit via mobile phone is not recommended. Customers should be are advised to use google chrome on a laptop or desktop.

The five boxes on the dashboard should be filled with the date (day/month/year), and time (hour/minutes). This should be done in 24hr format.

How long does it take to get and access my PCR results?

To access your results in our customer dashboard you must register and activate your test kit in the online customer dashboard. We will not process your returned self-swab test until this is done. You must then enter the date and time swab taken in the 5 boxes in the online customer dashboard otherwise your sample will be placed on hold. Your results are published within 24 hours of Oncologica receipt of your activated and swab date stamped self-sample swab at the lab, for viewing or certificate download. If the test kit is sourced through a third-party then login using the details provided by the company you booked through. Very infrequently, your swab result may be returned as inconclusive. This can be caused by poor sample taking technique. As a result, you may not have the time to purchase another kit for delivery before your flight.

Why can’t I find my Coronafocus PCR test result is the NHS App?

Oncologica report all Coronafocus test results to PHE and Track & Trace. Although we are a listed private provider on gov.uk, private provider international travel test results do not show in the NHS app. Only NHS PCR results show in the NHS app – no travel tests are shown on the NHS app profiles.

PCR Sample Rejected and Replacement

PCR Test sample rejection may be due to a number of reasons, i.e. the sample provided was non-optimal to determine whether individuals are infected with the virus. This can be due to leakage or damage in transit providing insufficient sample volume for testing, labelling issues, stability time exceeded, expired tubes, or no sample received. Factors such as consuming foodstuff 30 minutes prior to performing the swab and using oral hygiene products are not recommended prior to swab. If notified that your PCR Test sample was rejected, we ship a replacement kit and advise you to swab as soon as possible and return the sample.

PCR sample Inconclusive/Unclear

If a PCR test has returned a result that is Inconclusive/Unclear it is on the cusp of detectability. It is possible that you had the virus when the test was done, so you must take another test. We ship a replacement kit for Unclear tests and advise you to re-swab.

How do I order multiple PCR kits for my employees or group?

Multiple kit purchases for up to 10 people are available for booking on our website.  For business or group requests greater than 10 people, please provide your contact details and send your requirements to [email protected]

COVID Lateral Flow Tests

What is a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) COVID Antigen test?

Lateral Flow Device (LFD) antigen tests, commonly known as Lateral Flow Test (LFT), look for proteins produced by the COVID virus called antigens. As providers of lateral flow tests, we meet the gov.uk published standards. There is no UKAS accreditation of lateral flow test providers who supply kits for self-swab and self-test. UKAS is not conducting assessment of this activity.

What does the Coronafocus COVID Lateral Flow Antigen Test Package include?

  • Packaged self-sample swab
  • Packaged SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Cassette
  • Extraction liquid buffer tube and dropper tip
  • Waste bag
  • Kit box which includes a pop out section which converts into a tube holder
  • How to complete the self-swab test correctly instructions
  • How to upload result photo, for verification and certification instructions
  • A simple, easy to use Coronafocus web app (and mobile app coming shortly) to submit results, securely and stress free.
  • Clinical team verification and medical signed certificates within 2 hours
  • Government accredited testing provider
  • CE marked rapid antigen (lateral flow kits) approved by the UK MHRA, DHSC

How does the Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Antigen test work?

The Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Antigen Test manufactured by ACON uses a gentle nasal swab to take a sample from both nostrils. The swab is inserted into the extraction tube with the extraction fluid and then rotated and pressed to make sure that the sample from the swab is released into the extraction fluid (the swab is then discarded). You take the extraction tube with the nozzle cap and place 4 drops of extraction fluid into the sample well of the LFD testing cassette and check your results after 15 mins and before 30 minutes have passed on the test cassette. Do not read after 30 minutes. Two lines appearing on the cassette indicate a positive test result. One line on the cassette indicates negative or invalid tests (see instructions in kits for more details).

When should I order my Fit to Fly Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Antigen Test Service?

If your destination country rules ask for a Pre-departure LFD test to be done 72 hours in advance of cross border travel, ensure you allow time for your LFD test to be delivered. Do NOT take your LFD test outside of your pre-flight test window specified by your destination country. Please note that delivery to Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands/Islands may take 2-4 days.

Example: if flying on a Saturday, then we recommend ordering your test latest on the Thursday prior to date of travel. The kit will be delivered the next day for all Monday-Friday orders received before midday GMT and for all orders before 11:30am on Saturday and Sunday for you to take the self-sample swab for testing on the Friday prior to flying, this allows time to upload your result and receive verification from our Healthcare team. Verification of your result will then be confirmed within 2 hours of upload, with your travel certificate emailed on the Friday before flight. We cannot guarantee the Royal Mail delivery service which can sometimes take longer than 24 hours. Hence, we recommend travellers purchase test kits well in advance of travel. If you have not received your Lateral Flow Device (LFD) antigen test certificate after 2 hours of result upload, please check your spam/junk folders. For all Lateral Flow tests, please direct enquiries to coronafocus.formstack.com/forms/b2csupport.

Next steps of the Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Service after receiving the LFD test kit?

  • Follow the link https://coronafocus.app/login to log into an existing Coronafocus account or use the username and password sent via email when ordering the LFD kit. Once logged into the app you will be able to view your test kit orders, assign them to a person and then access the lateral flow test result image upload section.
  • Read and follow the Flowflex instructions for swabbing and processing results in your kit very carefully as if not done correctly, your result may be invalid.
  • Take your LFD test within the pre-flight timeframe specified by your destination country (note within 3 days if entering the UK).
  • Follow the test result image upload and verification instructions in your kit to take a photo of your test results at the correct time. Your test must be completed and submitted within 30 minutes, or the result will become invalid.
  • Place your completed test cassette on the instruction leaflet area marked to frame images for taking the upload picture.
  • Ensure prior to uploading and submitting the Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Antigen test result image for verification, that you have sufficient charge, a stable internet connection and a high-quality camera.
  • To perform the test verification, we require you to upload a photo of completed test and may also request proof of identification documentation. You are responsible to ensure that the submitted photo is in focus and of sufficient quality, contains the information required and are delivered in the time frame specified in our instructions and the timeframe stipulated by your destination travel rules. We reserve the right to reject any images not meeting the above requirements and we take no responsibility for failure to complete the image verification and produce results certification due to these factors.
  • You will receive a doctor-signed certificate within 2 hours of successful upload of a photo of your test result.

What is the shelf-life of the Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Antigen test?

The shelf life of extraction solution is 2 years from manufacture – check box.

Travel Planning

Which test kit do I need?

If you are leaving the UK, then depending on the destination country entry rules you will need a Pre-Travel Fit to Fly PCR or Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Antigen test with a certificate of negative test result.

Does my child need a test?

For children travelling abroad check entry requirements for your destination country. GOV.UK foreign travel advice.

Coronafocus kit dispatch, return and test lab opening times?

All orders placed before midday (GMT) directly with Oncologica are dispatched via DPD the same day for next Day delivery (excluding on bank holiday). Please note that delivery to Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands/Islands may take 2-4 days.

Return the self-swabbed sample using the pre-paid Royal Mail 24-hour tracked envelope provided. Post the envelope in a Royal Mail priority post box located in every town. These are normal Royal mail postal boxes on the streets with a priority label on them https://www.royalmail.com/services-near-you#/ or on the Royal Mail app. Or you can hand deliver swab samples to Oncologica, Suite 2, The Newnham Building, Chesterford Research Park, Little Chesterford CB10 1XL to avoid postal delays. You can arrange your own private courier to deliver the swab directly to our lab which is open 24 hours 7 days a week.

To avoid dispatch delays outside of our control please order at least 3 working days prior to required. Delays by Royal Mail return service are outside of our control. It is your responsibility to return the swab to us in sufficient time.

Test Results

What happens if I get a negative lateral flow test result?

Your coronavirus (COVID-19) test result is negative. You did not have the virus when the test was done.

For advice on when you might need to self-isolate and what to do, go to www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19 and read ‘Self-isolation and treating symptoms’.

What happens if I get a positive lateral flow test result?

Your coronavirus test result is positive. This means that you probably have the virus. As of Thursday 23rd February 2022, you are no longer legally required to self-isolate following a positive test result. Contact 111 if you need medical help. In an emergency dial 999.

What happens if I get an unclear lateral flow test result?

Your coronavirus test result is unclear. It is not possible to say if you had the virus when the test was done. As of Thursday 23rd February 2022, you are no longer legally required to self-isolate following a positive test result. You may choose to take another test if you wish.

What's included on my Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Antigen test result certificate?

We include your swab test date and certification verification result date on our doctor signed result certificate, along with key personal information including your passport number. The swab date is the date that your sample was taken. This is the date that must be within the testing window required by your destination country. The result date is the date that your result was verified by Oncologica, which is within 2 hours of you submitting your photo of the test result to us.

Both sample time and result time are recorded in UK time.

Although our certificates provide the key details required for travel, we cannot be held responsible if a destination country chooses not to accept it as proof of testing.

COVID 19 Lateral Flow Test result reporting to Public Health England (PHE)

Oncologica is a private provider for testing, both COVID 19 PCR and lateral flow antigen tests. Being a private provider means that your COVID 19 test result will not be viable with the NHS app. The NHS app is for NHS COVID 19 tests only. We report all results for COVID 19 tests to Public Health England (PHE) and Track and Trace via a separate, private server, with the data that is completed on your UK arrival declaration submitted on test order. The COVID-19 test result certificate that is sent to you via email and which is also downloadable via our Coronafocus app is proof of your test result detailing the minimum information required by the DHSC including a confirmation, scannable, QR code.

When is NHS Test and Trace informed of the result?

At the point the confirmatory PCR test result is known, and this is a positive result. Test results will as normal be referred to Test and Trace.

Other

NHS COVID pass for Fully vaccinated travellers

The NHS COVID Pass provides proof of a full course of vaccination for travelling abroad. On booking a Coronafocus PCR test you submit vaccination status details ie no vaccination, or fully NHS vaccinated, this means with 2 doses of Moderna, AstraZeneca or the Pfizer vaccine, or 1 dose of Janssen single-dose. The NHS COVID Pass is available 2 weeks after full vaccination. Your NHS appointment card cannot be used for proof of vaccine status. You will need to be registered with a UK GP to access the NHS as proof of COVID vaccination status.

Are the swabs sterilised?

The swabs used in Coronafocus self-sample PCR kits are ETO sterilised (Ethylene Oxide)

What if I self-swab incorrectly or spill the solution?

Once the test has been purchased and dispatched to you, it is your responsibility to correctly handle the liquid tube avoiding spillage and undertake the self-swab correctly following the instructions provided. If in contact with an external surface, use ethanol-based decontamination and cleaning solutions. Do not use bleach or other disinfectants.

Why chose the Coronafocus sequencing test?

Oncologica’s genomic sequencing lab can process 40,000 tests per day. We have been at the forefront of genomic coronavirus lab testing during the pandemic and have undertaken thousands of daily Covid-19 PCR tests to help safeguard human health.

I can't log onto the customer dashboard

Check you have put in all the correct details into the online Oncologica Customer Dashboard. This needs to be done on your computer as does not work on mobile. If not booked with Oncologica, please refer to the company you purchased from for login details.

What if I purchased lab testing through a Third Party?

For queries relating to kit supply, delivery tracking, activation and results reporting for PCR testing purchased through a third party, please contact the company from whom you purchased your service for support. We do not receive personal details for kits and testing services purchased through third parties. Oncologica only supply lab testing services to third party companies accredited by UKAS and the DHSC. Third party service quality is monitored by UKAS and the DHSC to ensure it is in accordance with accreditation.

Can I return or cancel the Coronafocus test?

We do not accept cancelled tests. Booking a correct test can be done at our website. A Coronafocus Test Kit is a product supplied by a health care professional and all orders are final when booked online. You have no statutory right to cancel your order or return your Coronafocus Test Kit. We reserve the right to cancel Coronafocus Test Kit orders and refund you the fee paid, should we have insufficient stock or be unable to deliver to the postal address provided in the online booking.

Customer Support

Our dedicated customer support team are ready to help you. Submit requests anytime via our Contact Us form - top right of screen, chat with the team via the tab bottom right or phone us on +44 (0) 1223 785327 9am - 5pm BST Mon - Fri.

Find what you need:

Dr David Fenelly

MD FRCPI ESMO

Former: Consultant Medical Oncologyst St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH); St Luke’s Hospital, National Maternity Hospital; St. Vincent’s Private Hospital; and Blackrock Clinic, Dublin; Member of International Advisory Board of Oneview Ltd. and Oneview Healthcare PLC; Member Director Centre for Colorectal Disease of SVUH;

Member of American Society of Clinical Oncology, European Society of Medical Oncology and Irish Society of Medical Oncology; Fellow of Royal College of Physicians; Formerly: Member of Breast and Gynaecological Cancer; Post Graduate Training from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre.

Prof Umberto Tirelli

MD

Former: Consultant Medical Oncologyst National Cancer Institute Aviano; Specialist in Oncology, Hematology and Infectious Diseases; “Commendatore” of the Italian Republic, awarded by the President of the Republic for scientific merit; co-founder and VP of the Associazione Scientifica Galileo 2001; Member of the Technical Scientific Board (CTS) at Centro di Riferimento Oncologico (CRO) in Aviano, Istituto Nazionale Tumori; Assigned to the Scientific Council of AIN (Associazione Italiana Nucleare) on nuclear power; Former President of AIMAC (Cancer Patients Italian Association) and now part of the Scientific Council;

Formerly appointed by the Italian Minister of Health as member of the National Oncology Commission; Member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the American Society of Hematology (ASH),and the International Immune-compromised Host Society (IHS); Member of the Scientific Committee of the AIOTE (Italian Association of oncology of the elderly);

Task Force Member (EORTC – European Org for Research and Treatment of Cancer) – Cancer in the elderly; Member of National Academy of Medicine for medical oncology (AIOM);  Environmental Comm. Committee mmber appointed by the Minister of the Environment.

Prof Daniele Generali

MD

Former: Consultant Medical Oncologyst, Azienda Istituti Ospitalieri, Cremona and Prof of Medical Oncology, Trieste Univ; Former Prof of Molecular Oncology, Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford Univ. Member of the Board of European Commission for initiative on Breast Cancer; Director of the Unit of Molecular Therapy and Pharmacogenomics, Azienda Istituti Ospitalieri, Cremona; Clinical Director of the Italian Red Cross, Cremona Section; Scientific Director of the Association of Research in Oncology Onlus, Cremona.

I would just like to thank you all for your help, support and professionalism this year, I contacted you after my recurrence of breast cancer, everything was explained to me in detail and I decided to go ahead with the test, I am so glad I did, every one I dealt with was so kind and encouraging, I was very scared about the journey ahead of me. The promptness of all the team was amazing my biopsy was collected quickly and I was contacted by Sarah constantly with updates on what was happening. As soon as the tests were completed I was sent the report with a follow up telephone call from the Doctor who talked me through it, he said he would be available to answer any further questions.

I showed the report to my hospital. Doctors and they were impressed with the information gathered and I am on the drugs recommended in my report and I have been really well with no side effects. Thank you all again.

I would like to pass not only my, but my father’s, gran’s and entire family and friends appreciation to not only Oncologica® but to you directly. Sarah, you went above and beyond what was expected, you took a personal interest and gave huge support. Your tone was always polite and you helped to listen to myself during the emotional moments when speaking. The hope you as a person gave and the encouragement, helped when I had to mount the challenge on behalf of my mother and father. Myself and my father agreed before taking to Oncologica® that as long as we tried all avenues and did everything we could for my late mother, this would be the only way we could coped.

Without yourself and Oncologica® we would not have been able to achieve the goal. My late mother took hope, encouragement and huge amounts of mental positively from the work but more importantly the personal touch you gave. As a person your indirect support helped my late mother. A person who didn’t praise health professionals easily due to career in the NHS and private sector. She praised you from the information, hope and personal feel you gave. You helped to give her peace of mind and know all options were looked into. I can’t sum up our, my feelings as they hold you in the highest regard. Perhaps, to say you have our eternal gratitude summons it all.

I just wanted to get in touch to thank you and the whole team at Oncologica® for the reports you did for my Dad. Despite a very poor prognosis, following the advice in the Oncologica® reports he has been receiving an immunotherapy drug under Dr Fennelly in St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, since the early spring and is now in much better health. The latest scans show a significant reduction in the size of the main tumour and a stagnation in the growth of secondary tumours. He is no longer in significant pain and is able to enjoy day to day life again. Thank you all for your hard work, we really appreciate it.

After being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer my mothers only treatment option on the NHS was chemo therapy. The doctors gave her 6 months without treatment and only 9 with treatment but her quality of life would have been awful if undergoing chemo therapy.

After finding Oncologica® their help, advice and support have been second to none. Their ground breaking analysis and treatment options enabled my mother to undergo immunotherapy which has successfully reduced the size of her tumour and thankfully she is still with us over 2 years later. This would have not been possible without Oncologica®!

Without Oncologica® we do believe that my mother would no longer be with us but through them and their continued support she is still hear and enjoying her life with us and able to watch her grand children grow and play. We cannot thank Oncologica® enough for everything they have done and their continued support and cannot recommend them highly enough.” Many, many thanks from the whole family.

Karan Jensen was diagnosed in 2017, aged 48 with cervical cancer. Karan ordered the Oncofocus® Test to identify additional treatment options and shares her story here in the following Q&A.

How did your diagnosis come about?

I had been having regular smear tests, but then one came back with irregular cells and the doctor asked to see me in 6 months time. We were moving, so I delayed going back, but when I did get to the doctors, they ended up doing a biopsy. Within 2 weeks I was diagnosed with Stage 2B cervical cancer with lymph node involvement.

What happened after you were diagnosed?

Treatment was started to cure my cancer. I had four cycles of chemotherapy plus 32 sessions of radiotherapy.

Did this treatment work?

Unfortunately, the tumour did not change with this type of chemotherapy, so I then started on alternative therapies.

Did the second round of treatment work?

I was meant to have six sessions of this chemotherapy, but after three, I had a scan and found out that the tumour had grown. I was told that there was no point continuing treatment as my cancer was incurable, and to go home and get things in order.

Did you experience any side effects of chemotherapy?

During chemotherapy, I was hospitalised four times with infections and neutropenic sepsis. The chemotherapy also caused swelling of my legs (lymphoedema), and my kidneys had been damaged so that I had to have a nephrostomy bag attached to collect urine.

How did you feel when they told you that you cancer was incurable?

I have an 11-year-old son, so I was not going to give up and did some research online on the best treatments for my cancer.

What did you find searching online?

I found out about the Oncofocus®® cancer test by Oncologica® on their website and got in touch.

Was it easy getting the Oncofocus® test done?

It cost £2000 but it was an easy decision to make. I just had to fill in a few forms and Oncologica® did all the work to get the biopsy from my hospital.

What were the results of the Oncofocus® test?

The test quickly came back that my tumour was exceptionally high in a protein called PD-L1, so it would respond really well to immunotherapy, which works by boosting a person’s immune system to help it recognise and fight cancer cells.

What happened when you knew the results of the test?

The treatment that the test recommended was not available on the NHS so my oncologist contacted Christie Hospital in Manchester, which was part of the PROCLAIM-CX-072 clinical trial that is investigating an experimental drug that targets PD-L1.
I was very sick at this stage, and the doctors were not sure that I would be well enough to get into the trial. As my levels of PD-L1 were so high, however, they thought they had to give me the opportunity.

Was this new treatment successful?

I was meant to have four sessions of CX-072 plus ipilumumab every 3 weeks, plus CX-072 maintenance therapy for a year. Although the treatment was not as bad as chemotherapy and I did not lose any hair, it still made me feel very poorly. After the third session, I developed a bad reaction and the level of some of my white blood cells that fight infection, neutrophils, plummeted and could not be restored to normal. It was therefore too risky to continue the treatment.
The good news was that a scan in March this year showed that the new therapy had reduced the tumour by 50%.

Are you still receiving treatment?

Even though the treatment has stopped, my immune system has taken over and is fighting the tumour. I am scanned every 2 months, and every time my tumour reduces by a further 0.5% to 1%. Last week I had another scan, and it had reduced by 3% and I feel better today than I have over the past 3 years.

What are your thoughts on the Oncofocus® test?

If I had had the test before receiving chemotherapy, this would have saved the NHS a load of money giving me a treatment that did not work and putting me through so much. I continue to need a nephrostomy bag due to the damage done by chemotherapy, which needs changing once a week and the tubes replaced in hospital every 3 months.

What is happening now?

We are now at the ‘watch and wait’ stage. However, as I have had such a good response to the immunotherapy and feel so much better, I can have more treatment if needed in the future. The swelling in my leg has gone down and I can now wear my shoes and move around normally again. I was so sick that I did not think that I would see last Christmas. Now I will get to experience Christmas again this year.

Prof Giovanni Palazzoni

MD

Former Manager of the Centre for antiblastic drug (UFA) preparation, he has delivered ECM courses for nursing staff involved in antiblastic drugs, provided expertise on linear accelerators use and fissile material implants, he has managed a chemotherapy day hospital, Cobalt therapy plant and chemotherapy, biohazard drugs and vaccines which can potentially be fatal. He has managed partially inactivated pathogens, oncological radiotherapy, manipulated antineoplastic agents, run clinical physics lab simulations and managed the digital image processing for therapeutic planning at the Columbus Integrated Complex Gemelli and University Polyclinic Foundation.  He was also an editor of the bestselling book "Seno Buono Seno Cattivo" ie Good Breasts-Bad Breasts in art, illness, and reconstructive surgery.

I was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in March 2018. I started radiotherapy, which worked well. The tumour then started to cause a build up of fluid in my abdomen, which chemotherapy helped to reduce. However, when the first line chemotherapy stopped working after 5 months and then the second line chemotherapy failed to work at all, the fluid returned and I had two stays in hospital to help drain it.

Having exhausted standard therapy and become bedbound, I found out about the Oncofocus® Test from an online search. The overall process from submitting the form to Test results was easy and rapid. The company called to talk me through the process and to explain the results of the Test, and also took care of the logistics of collecting the sample from the hospital. It turned out that I have a rare cancer mutation and was lucky to have had a response at all to the initial chemotherapy.

I had a remarkably effective and rapid response to the drugs that the Test recommended for my cancer mutation. After just 2 weeks of treatment, my abdomen returned to normal size. After 4 weeks of treatment, I was swimming, walking and fully enjoying all that life has to offer again. I am truly grateful for the significant improvement in quality of life I experienced, especially as I had no side effects from the new drugs. The extra months that this gave me meant that I had further quality time with my family and could prepare them better for life without me.

A father of two with terminal cancer has been given new hope after being offered a free pioneering test to help find alternative treatments.

Mick Weldon, 38, from Cambourne, has a rare form of stomach cancer which is resistant to conventional forms of treatment.

In April, the News reported on Mick’s efforts to crowdfund enough money to cover the cost of analysis of new treatments.

After reading his story, Cambridge-based research company Oncologica® approached Mick to offer a ground-breaking test for free.

Mick was first admitted to hospital in December 2015 with a suspected ruptured ulcer, only to be later diagnosed with a cancer that had spread to his abdomen, liver, and surrounding organs.

Doctors found that Mick had a rare subset of Stage 4 GIST stomach cancer called wild type SDH deficient, which is incurable, but could be held at bay by new drugs.

Normally costing around £1,500, Mick under went an Oncofocus® test, which has been developed to detect every mutation linked to every drug and applicable to all tumour types.

Oncologica® claim that the test can identify specific treatment options in 85 to 90 per cent of patients.

Mick’s results show that a certain protein, PDL-1, expressed by his tumours, was acting as a ‘cloaking agent’ and effectively hiding the tumour from his immune system.

He now hopes his crowdfunding efforts will help to finance three cycles of anti-PDL-1 drugs.

“I’ve gone from having no options to a lot of options,” he said. “I’m amazingly positive. I’ve gone from a place where I had no hope to where I have a viable option. We’re all really upbeat.”

Mick hopes new treatments will give him more time to spend with his wife Emma and daughters Charlie, 17, and Rebecca, 15.

He previously said: “No one prepares for their own death, no wife wants to stand by and watch her once proud strong husband slowly degrade, and I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be for two beautiful young ladies to watch the father they have looked up to for as long as they have known slowly slip away.”

If Mick is able to secure the funding for his three cycles of drugs he hopes the evidence gathered will benefit other cancer patients.

“The NHS needs evidence,” he said. “We have to prove these drugs are viable.”

“I’d like to be in a position to start up a database where people can find this information where people can look up their options.”

He also remains realistic about how any new drugs will help his condition, but very thankful to the support of Oncologica®.

“Even if this fails, at least something is being done and I’m not just waiting to die,” Mick said.

“[Oncologica®] are absolutely amazing people. It buoyed me up. Until that point I was coming to the end of conventional treatment.”

Dr Marco Loddo, co-founder and scientific director at Oncologica®, said: “We saw the article and learnt about Mick’s story and in particular that his tumour type was quite rare and found out that he had exhausted all treatment options on the NHS.

“We hoped that we might be able to help with our tests. We’re happy to help.”

Oncologica® is a precision oncology services laboratory and contract research organisation founded in 2014.

Its Oncofocus® test aims to help encourage a move away from toxic non-specific cancer treatments to the use of the new generation of biological anti-cancer agents called targeted therapies.

Targeted therapies specifically hit cancer cells and not the normal cells of the body. They are said to be more effective than chemotherapy because patients are spared severe toxic side effects such as hair loss, infections, anaemia, gut toxicity and fatigue.

Professor Gareth Williams, co-founder and medical director, said: “What we are doing is to optimise the treatment pathway to provide a roadmap and that can have huge benefits for patients. You can avoid all the toxicity issues.”