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Ashkenazi cancer screening

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2008-10-31

Genetic testing of the healthy Ashkenazi Jewish population

Genetic testing of the healthy Ashkenazi Jewish population

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Early detection screening and counselling for cancer within the Ashkenazi Jewish population is being undertaken as part of a pilot test project in north west London that may be rolled out nationwide.

The Genetic Cancer Prediction through Population Screening (GCaPPS) project involves genetic testing of the healthy Ashkenazi Jewish population by researchers from the Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre (GCRC) at UCL Institute for Women's Health.

The first phase of the project has seen people visit Boots in Mill Hill, north west London for their counselling appointments.

The research involves looking for faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which may contribute to cancer and providing appropriate support.

"There is the possibility that in due course this approach will lead to a reduction in the number of cancers within the community. The data from GCaPPS will provide the basis for informed decision making about the introduction of BRCA population testing in the Ashkenazi Jewish community and other populations," said Professor Ian Jacobs, director of the Institute for Women's Health. "Before taking such a major step we need to be confident that the benefits of this sort of testing outweigh the disadvantages and that is the reason for conducting this important and complex research study."

According to research, one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carry the faulty gene which increases the likelihood of developing breast, ovarian or prostate cancer and is much higher than the general population.

"We are delighted to be supporting this innovative research project as part of our support for The Eve Appeal. Boots is at the forefront of bringing healthcare to the high street and making it more accessible for all," said Tricia Kennerley, healthcare development director of Boots. "This trial takes healthcare a step further and we hope that it will ultimately help to reduce the risk of cancer in the Ashkenazi Jewish population."

Jewish organisations including Jewish Care and Norwood have offered support to the project.

"We are delighted to be part of this innovative project, which aims to make a real difference to our community through greater understanding of the genetic causes of cancer and early testing and detection," said Simon Morris, chief executive of Jewish Care. "We are fully committed to this project and are happy to support it by helping to recruit interested volunteers, promoting the research to our stakeholders and offering facilities for a recruitment centre."

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