Philanthropy offers free genetic tests

Dec. 15, 2009 at 3:02 PM   |   Comments

TORONTO, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- A Canadian charity will pay for up to 5,000 female Ontario residents to undergo genetic cancer screening, officials say.

Officials at Women's College Hospital Foundation in Toronto say they are planning to use its philanthropic dollars to provide genetic tests for Jewish women at higher risk for breast cancer and ovarian, the Globe and Mail reported Tuesday.

Many are ineligible for this type of genetic testing in Canada.

In a study, Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2,080 Jewish women in Ontario were tested and 22 women were found to have BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations. In addition, eight female relatives of these 22 were also found to have mutations. Of the 22, more than half of the women inherited it from their fathers, the study said.

"Women don't understand it can be passed through a father," lead author Kelly Metcalfe, an adjunct scientist at Women's College Research Institute, told the Globe and Mail. "Physicians don't (always) know that, either."

If a woman has the genetic mutations, she can opt for specialized screening to help detect cancer early, drug therapy to help reduce the risk or prophylactic surgery, the report said.

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