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Healthcare professionals call for tighter restrictions on at-home genetic testing kits

22 July 2019

DNA testing kit

Yesterday it was reported in the news that senior doctors have called for stricter regulations around consumer genetic testing kits such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA.

The consumer testing kits offer an opportunity to explore your family history but have more recently moved into testing for faulty genes such as BRCA mutations, that could highlight an elevated risk of both ovarian and breast cancer. The catch here is that unlike genetic testing through the NHS, the tests are not thorough and do not test for all mutations, which could lead to false results. The DIY process also forgoes the essential genetic counselling that the NHS provides alongside such an important process. 

Knowing you carry a BRCA gene mutation gives you the power to make informed decisions around the preventative measures that are available to lower your risk and should you need it, helps you access personalised treatment - a recent advancement in the treatment of cancer thanks to medical research and clinical trials. Stricter regulations would ensure that everyone is offered the support they deserve on their journey and would reduce the number of false positives that have been reported. 

Marie-Claire Platt, Head of Public Affairs and Research at Ovarian Cancer Action, said: "Consumer genetic testing kits are becoming increasingly popular, however there are significant downfalls to accessing information about your genetic risks outside of the NHS. 

“Finding out that you carry a BRCA gene mutation is life-changing. The NHS provides genetic counselling both before and after testing to ensure that individuals fully understand their results and the consequences, and are appropriately supported. BRCA testing plays an important role in the prevention of ovarian cancer, however we recommend that those who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer speak to their GP about being referred for genetic testing."

Do you have a family history of ovarian cancer? Explore your risk using our simple online calculator: ovarian.org.uk/risk tool 

For more information around BRCA gene mutations visit our BRCA Hub