NHS to launch new programme of BRCA genetic testing for Jewish community
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NHS to launch new programme of BRCA genetic testing for Jewish community

Up to one in 40 Jews carry the genetic mutations which can lead to certain cancers, compared with one in 400 in the general population.

Painted pebbles showing support for the NHS and keyworkers, and containing positive messages
Painted pebbles showing support for the NHS and keyworkers, and containing positive messages

NHS England is launching a new programme of genetic testing for mutations of the breast cancer gene in the Jewish community – who are 10 times more at risk than the general population.

Up to one in 40 Jews carry BRCA genetic mutations which can lead to certain cancers, compared with one in 400 in the general population.

The NHS hopes the move will help identify thousands more carriers of the mutation over the next three years which will enable these people to access cancer surveillance and prevention services.

NHS England boss Amanda Pritchard will announce the initiative at the NHS ConfedExpo conference in Liverpool today.

Addressing the meeting, she will say: “The NHS will not rest in our efforts to catch cancer early and save more lives.

“Throughout the pandemic, NHS staff developed new and innovative ways to ensure patients could get cancer checks and treatment as normal, including by providing Covid-safe drugs and delivering chemo at home.

“NHS staff have continued this innovation; from liver trucks travelling around the country to genetic testing and high-street checks, we want to make it as easy as possible for those most at risk to get vital, lifesaving tests.

“These plans have the power to truly transform the way we find and treat cancer, and ultimately spare thousands of patients and their families from avoidable pain and loss.”

The health service has committed to increasing the proportion of cancers caught at an early stage when the disease is easier to treat, offering a better prospect of survival.

At the moment around half of cancers are caught early but the NHS aspires to increase this figure to three quarters.

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