The Scottish government has announced that genetic testing for predisposition to breast cancer will be expanded to allow women with a risk of 10% or above to access BRCA1/2 genetic testing by June 2013.
At present, only those with a risk of 20% or above are eligible, but the Scottish Genetics Laboratory Consortium has decided to lower the threshold for genetic testing in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations from 2006 and current practice in England and Wales.
The move follows calls
from charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer to improve access and increased public demand following the recent news
that actress Angelina Jolie has undergone a preventative double mastectomy following identification of a BRCA1
gene mutation. Mutations in the BRCA1/2
genes are associated with a substantially increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, usually resulting in a strong family history of the disease in relatively young women, although many other genetic variants can contribute to overall risk of the disease.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "The earlier cancer is detected the easier it is to treat and the better the chance of a successful outcome, and we hope that Ms Jolie's story will encourage anyone with a family history of cancer to seek advice from the medical profession". Women found to carry BRCA1/2 mutations can opt for full mastectomy or increased screening to ensure early detection of any cancer.