Up to 6,000 NHS patients a year afflicted with cancer are to undergo genetic tests to allow treatment to be tailored to their specific form of the disease and offer the best chance of survival.
The pilot scheme, offering personalised cancer treatment, will test tumours in the patients and analyse them for a range of genetic defects.
The tests hope to increase the effectiveness of treatment by improving survival rates and preventing the NHS fromwasting money on ineffective drugs.
Charity Cancer Research UK says, if the trial is successful when it is rolled out in the autumn, it could become routine procedure by 2015.
To begin with, a network of six centres will be set up around the country where tumours are examined and grouped according to the specific genetic mutations they carry.
Once this has been carried out, patients will be offered drug treatment based on the genetic make-up of their cancer.
Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said such testing could make a real difference and help save more lives.