The NHS Jewish BRCA Testing Programme

Free BRCA gene testing is now available via The NHS Jewish BRCA Testing Programme to anyone who is: 

  • living in England 
  • aged 18 or over 
  • of Jewish ancestry – meaning they have ONE or more Jewish grandparent (of any type of Jewish origin)

To find out more and sign up to get tested click the button below


Why has this programme been launched?

Prior to the launch of this new programme, NHS BRCA gene testing was only available for Jewish individuals with a strong history in their family of the BRCA-associated cancers (and/or individuals who have/had breast or ovarian cancer). However, research over the last decade concluded that this ‘family-history’ based approach is inadequate.

The Genetic Cancer Prediction through Population Screening Study (GCaPPS) led by Professor Ranjit Manchanda and funded by The Eve Appeal  revealed that over 50% of individuals with a BRCA gene fault are ineligible for testing via a system using family-history based criteria. Unfortunately, without this opportunity for testing, these individuals are unable to access potentially life-saving risk management opportunities. In fact, the study highlighted that only 11% of individuals with a BRCA gene fault in the Jewish community were aware of their status. 

Further, the study showed that using an alternative approach – a ‘population-based approach’ – in which BRCA gene testing is offered to Jewish people irrespective of their family history of the BRCA-associated cancers, is preferable as it detects more individuals with a gene fault. It also showed that using a population-based approach does not have an adverse effect on the quality of life or psychological state of those testing, as compared to conventional family history based testing. 

Additional research illustrated not only the clinical utility of adopting population based BRCA testing approach for the Jewish community, but also its cost effectiveness for the NHS.

As an outcome of GCaPPS, NHS England (NHSE) decided to launch a 3-year programme of BRCA testing for the Jewish community under the name ‘The Jewish Community’s NHS BRCA Testing Programme’.  The programme is part of NHSE’s 10-Year Cancer Plan to catch more cancer early, when they are easier to treat.

Israel has already replaced their family-history based approach to BRCA testing with a population-based system, and England is the second country in the world so far to follow suit.