How to get tested

NHS BRCA Testing In England

This is a new 3-year programme of free BRCA testing dedicated to individuals of Jewish ancestry in England. The programme is delivered by NHS England.

Jnetics (in partnership with Chai Cancer Care) has been appointed by NHS England to deliver a community engagement campaign to support and sign post to this programme.  

Who is eligible to take part?

Eligibility for the programme is based on ancestry alone and previous cancer diagnosis or a strong family history of BRCA related cancers are NOT prerequisites for taking part.  

To be eligible for testing via this new programme you must: 

  • Be living in England 
  • Be aged 18 or over 
  • Have ONE or more Jewish grandparent – of any type of Jewish ancestry (e.g. Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrachi etc) 

How does it work?

Participation does not require a GP referral and is completely ‘remote’ – so all steps can take place from home:

  1. Sign up for testing here or on the phone by calling the genetics helpline for this programme – +44 20 3437 6001 
  2. Receive a pack in the post with everything you need for testing – information booklet, forms and saliva collection kit 
  3. Review the information booklet. If you wish, you can also speak to genetic counsellor with any clinical/administrative questions via the genetics helpline for this service +44 20 3437 6001  
  4. Complete the forms and provide the saliva sample 
  5. Return these in the envelope provided in the pack (as per instructions enclosed) 
  6. Receive a results letter via post up to 16 weeks later (this is subject to change. If the waiting time is longer you will be informed by the programme) 

And if you are found to have a faulty BRCA gene: 

  1. Have a phone appointment with an NHS genetic counsellor with in 1 week of getting your results to discuss what the results mean and what your next steps are. The genetic counsellor will make a referral to the high risk breast cancer screening programme if appropriate. 
  2. See a genetic counsellor or clinical geneticist face to face at your regional NHS clinical genetics department and begin your risk management journey. The waiting time to be seen varies regionally and may take a few months. Read more about the options available on the NHS for managing cancer risk here. 

Genetic Counselling Helpine

There is a dedicated genetic counselling helpline run by NHS genetic counsellors for those considering or currently participating in testing through this programme.  The counsellors are able to respond to any clinical or administrative questions and can support individuals in many scenarios including  

  • those considering testing 
  • those awaiting their results 
  • those who have just received their results 
  • those who have tested positive and are waiting to be seen in their regional clinical genetics department.  

The helpline is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm with extended hours until 7pm on Wednesdays. 

Helpline number: +44 20 3437 6001 


2. Testing Via Your Regional Genetics Centre.

In some scenarios, testing via your regional genetics centre may be better. For example: 

  • If there is a known BRCA gene mutation in your family. NB- If the mutation was discovered through the Jewish BRCA Testing Programme then testing can be undertaken through the programme too. The family members who has tested positive will be given information about this when they receive their results.  
  • if you have/had breast or ovarian cancer  
  • if there is strong history in your family of the BRCA related cancers.  

To test via your regional genetics, you need to speak to your GP first and request a referral.  

If you are unsure about which service is more appropriate for your personal circumstance, you can call the NHS genetics helpline dedicated to the Jewish BRCA Testing Programme on +44 20 3437 6001.  

NHS BRCA Testing Outside England 

The only options for NHS BRCA testing outside of England is via your regional genetics centre. You are eligible for BRCA testing on the NHS if: 

  • You are Ashkenazi Jewish (or from another high-risk group) AND have a strong family history of breast/ovarian cancer (family history would need to meet certain criteria and this is assessed by genetic counsellor). 
  • You have breast cancer under the age of 40 
  • You have breast cancer under the age of 50 AND you are Ashkenazi Jewish 
  • You have breast cancer over the age of 50 AND you are Ashkenazi Jewish AND you have strong family history of breast/ovarian cancer (family history would need to meet certain criteria and this is assessed by genetic counsellor).  
  • You have ovarian cancer at any age 

For those who have not had cancer and want to explore eligibility for testing, this can be organised via your GP, who will refer you to your regional genetics centre.  

For those who have cancer, testing can be organised via your Oncologist/Breast Surgeon/Breast care nurse/Gynae cancer Surgeon. They will either offer the testing themselves or refer you to your regional genetics service, for undergoing testing.  

People who have/had previously had cancer might want to still ask their GP to refer them to Genetics if their Oncologist, Surgeon etc hasn’t done this. 

Private BRCA Gene Testing

For those not eligible for NHS BRCA testing, testing can be accessed privately.  

Private testing providers vary greatly in the cost and services that they provide. If opting for private testing, we strongly recommend using a service that includes genetic counselling, to ensure that you understand the full implications of receiving a positive result before going ahead.  
If you would like to be signposted to a private BRCA testing service or would like to discuss testing with us then please contact Jnetics on 020 8123 5123 or 

A list of information and support resources for those considering BRCA testing can also be found here.