NHS Jewish BRCA Testing Programme Officially Launches

After a one-year pilot, last night, 31 January 2024, saw the official launch of the NHS Jewish BRCA Testing Programme at the House of Lords, for which Jnetics and Chai have been appointed as joint engagement partners. This ground-breaking programme enables anyone with one Jewish grandparent to take a simple home-based saliva test to find out if they carry an error in their BRCA1 or BRCA 2 genes, which increase their risk of developing cancer, in particular breast, ovarian and, in the case of BRCA 2, prostate cancer.

With that knowledge comes the power to do something about it and mitigate the risk. The launch was well attended by leading figures from NHS England together with Lords and MPs, CEOs from a number of national cancer charities, and key stakeholders spanning the Jewish Community and beyond. The official launch of the programme has been well received by the media (BBC, Jewish Chronicle, Guardian, Evening Standard and printed coverage in the Times to name but a few, see below for more links and images).

Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England said “BRCA testing for the people most at risk has the potential to save lives, by allowing them to take steps to reduce the chance of cancers developing or making sure that any cancer can be detected as early as possible, with those at increased risk able to take advantage of surveillance and prevention programmes with their health teams.”

“We want as many people as possible to take advantage of this testing programme, so please do come forward for a simple saliva test if you are eligible – most people won’t have an altered gene, but if you do, the NHS can provide you with further testing, surveillance or treatment as early as possible.”

Following Peter Johnson, Professor Ranjit Manchanda who spent 16 years researching and pioneering this programme concluded “I am absolutely thrilled. It is about identifying more people who are at risk and it’s about saving lives.”

Lord David Wolfson of Tredegar, KC, who hosted the launch at the House of Lords, praised the programme as “a real example of how the Jewish Community can work together with a national organisation and be of benefit to both.”

As engagement partners, Jnetics and Chai are committed to supporting the community to make informed choices, not only for themselves but for wider family members, and to deliver expert support and care at every stage.

For further information on the testing programme and the support available, please visit jewishbrca.org.

A selection of the press coverage: