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National NHS BRCA gene testing to identify cancer risk early for people with Jewish ancestry

NHS England have announced a new screening programme to provide genetic testing for tens of thousands of people with Jewish ancestry, who are more likely to carry BRCA gene faults that can increase risk of breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

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The introduction of the new programme is testimony to the extensive body of published research evidence from Ranjit Manchanda, Professor of Gynaecological Oncology at the Wolfson Institute of Population Health, who for 15 years led the Genetic Cancer Prediction through Population Screening Study (GCaPPS).

The national NHS Jewish BRCA Testing Programme will offer adults with Jewish ancestry a simple saliva test, that can be carried out at home, to look for the presence of BRCA1 or BRCA2 faults. Thousands of people have already come forward for testing during the pilot phase, and the national roll-out will see around 30,000 people tested over the next two years. The programme will enable people with BRCA faults to seek early access to surveillance and prevention services.

In the Jewish population, BRCA gene faults cause 4 in 10 ovarian cancers and 1 in 10 breast cancers - cancers that are potentially preventable. Compared with the general population, people with Jewish ancestry are around six times more likely to carry BRCA gene faults.

Professor Manchanda’s work was recognised at the House of Lords launch event for the programme, where he spoke alongside Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England.

Professor Manchanda said: "Having spent over 15 years researching this area and leading the Genetic Cancer Prediction through Population Screening (GCaPPS) Study, I am thrilled to see the NHS BRCA screening programme roll out. This is paradigm changing for the applicability of genomics to health care, and will lead to many more cancers being prevented and many more lives saved."


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