NHS genetic testing programme for people with Jewish ancestry
On 30 January 2023, NHS England launched a three-year programme to offer genetic testing for BRCA mutations to men and women over 18 years old with Jewish ancestry (at least one Jewish grandparent) in England
The NHS Jewish BRCA testing programme aims to identify more people with cancer predisposing genes and enrol them into appropriate screening and treatment pathways. This will lead to more cancers being prevented or detected earlier and contribute to the NHS Long Term Plan ambition to diagnose 75% of cancers at an early stage by 2028. Having a BRCA mutation increases your risk of developing several cancers, in particular (for women), breast and ovarian cancer. We are targeting this community because people with Jewish ancestry are six times more likely to carry a BRCA mutation compared to the general population. Women found to be BRCA mutation carriers can have breast screening at a younger age through the Very High Risk Breast Cancer Screening Programme and may choose to have risk reducing surgery and/or access preventative medication.
The programme has so far been a success. In the first year of the programme, 3887 Jewish people returned a saliva sample to be tested, 3166 results have been processed and 83 BRCA carriers found. All BRCA carriers are referred to their local clinical genetics service for onwards management.