Kelly Morgan, MS, CGC, on Exploring Targeted Testing for the Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA Mutation

The MSK expert discussed the need for targeted testing for the Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA mutations in the US healthcare system.

In a recent study, presented at the 2020 ASCO Virtual Scientific Program, the BRCA Founder OutReach (BFOR) offered pre-testing online education with posttest engagement of primary care providers.

In an interview with CancerNetwork, Kelly Morgan, MS, CGC, a genetic counselor at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, offered background on why the study was conducted in this patient population.


To start from the beginning, we know that those of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry have actually a 1 in 40 risk of carrying a BRCA mutation. So, the BRCA gene, which are associated with breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreas cancer, are quite prevalent. However, these mutations were actually discovered over 20 years ago. They were discovered by Dr. Kenneth Offit, he is 1 of the principal investigators of this study. We know today that more than 80% of Ashkenazi Jewish individuals have not been tested for these BRCA mutations. 

He, along with the other principal investigators of the study…all felt that it was very important to explore the feasibility of offering targeted testing for the Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA mutations in our healthcare system. This has been explored in other healthcare systems – Australia, United Kingdom, Israel, Canada – but we have yet to try it here. I think we were able to take a very unique approach to offering this expanded, more population-based test.