The U.K. National Health Service (NHS) is launching a national genetic testing program aimed at people in England with Jewish ancestry who may be carriers of mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that increase their risk of certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
People with Jewish ancestry are up to six times more likely to carry these cancer-causing mutations, the NHS said in a statement on its website.
Any Briton 18 or older with at least one Jewish grandparent may request testing; participants provide a saliva sample collected at home which will then be sent for testing at NHS labs. The NHS has launched a website for the initiative for participants as well.
The NHS anticipates testing about 30,000 people over the next two years; the agency noted that thousands of tests have already been administered during the pilot phase of the program.
The program is part of an NHS initiative to engage the British public in increasing early detection of cancer, when it is easier to treat. Earlier efforts have included a mobile lung cancer screening program, which has thus far resulted in the detection of more than 3,000 lung cancers, the majority of which were at stages I and II, according to the NHS.