BRCA mutations increase the risk for breast (male and female), ovarian, prostate, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma. Carriers, both male and female, have a 50% chance of passing on their BRCA mutation to each of their children. Genetic testing identifies if a person is a carrier and enables them to consider different options to manage their cancer risk, and improve their health outcomes.
BRCA testing is available on the NHS for people assessed as being ‘high risk’. However, research* shows that the criteria used by the NHS to assess risk will exlude over 50% of BRCA carriers from their testing service. Though many private companies now offer BRCA testing, these options are often unaffordable and lack appropriate genetic counselling.
A peer-reviewed cost-benefit analysis** concluded that thousands of lives, as well as significant NHS funds, could be saved if BRCA testing was made available to all Jewish adults – not just those assessed as ‘high risk’. And yet, even the restricted NHS service is not being fully utilised by the Jewish community as many of those eligible today are not accessing this vital service.