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Testing times for BRCA gene carriers

New commissioning guidance sets out who should be offered gene testing for raised risk of breast and ovarian cancers. The ‘Angelia Jolie effect’ means that more women are asking about screening, and non-specialist nurses need to be aware of the issues relating to gene testing.

Specialist nurses and the charities that support women with breast and ovarian cancer all talk about how the actor Angelina Jolie has done more than any other individual to put BRCA genes on the map.

‘There really is an Angelina Jolie effect,’ says National Forum of Gynaecological Oncology Nurses president Tracie Miles. ‘More and more women are going to their GP.’

A BRCA cell. People who carry BRCA mutations are at higher risk of developing some cancers

Picture credit: Science Photo Library

Jackie Harris, clinical nurse specialist for family history and breast health at the charity Breast Cancer Care, adds: ‘We hear from lots of nurses who telephone our support line asking for information about this.’

BRCA genes – short for BReast CAncer – are two genes that repair DNA. Women, such as Ms Jolie, who carry an inherited mutation in either of these genes

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