Cancer cells
Cancer cells iStock

JScreen, a not-for-profit education and carrier screening program for Jewish genetic diseases, has announced it will now offer at-home testing for more than 60 cancer susceptibility genes, associated with hereditary risks for breast, ovarian, prostate, colorectal, skin and other cancers.

The program, a national public health initiative based out of Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Human Genetics, stated that the aim is to make cancer genetic testing easily accessible.

"This type of testing is important because it alerts people to their risks before they get cancer," said Jane Lowe Meisel, professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory. "They can then take action to help prevent cancer altogether or to detect it at an early, treatable stage."

Unlike other genetic testing companies, JScreen is unique in that its cancer screening program uses highly accurate saliva testing. The samples are examined using state of the art genetic sequencing technology. The cancer testing panel reveals genes that are "actionable, meaning there is something that can be done to help prevent cancer if a person tests positive."

JScreen has licensed genetic counsellors who provide advice on the phone or through video conferencing to ensure people understand the results of their test.

Previously, JScreen's focus had been on reproductive carrier screening for genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease, which could be passed on to a child.

"Knowledge is power. With an understanding and awareness of their risks and available options, individuals can work with their health-care providers on next steps," said Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, JScreen's Executive Director. "Launching our new cancer program and providing convenient and affordable access to cancer genetic testing will help save lives. We are thrilled to bring this important resource to the public."