Preventative DNA screening for young Australians

In a world-first, Monash University is leading a DNA screening program that will allow Australians aged 18-40 to assess their risk of cancer and heart disease. It is thought that early detection of these diseases will allow young Australians to make more informed health decisions.

DNA Screen is a nation-wide project funded by the Federal Government and supported by Australian Genomics. Up to 10,000 representative young Australians will be able to undertake DNA screening for free via a saliva kit posted to their home. Participant saliva samples can then be posted for testing.

DNA screening will only look for known genetic changes associated with the conditions Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, Lynch Syndrome, and Familial Hypercholesterolemia.

Jane Tiller, Monash University’s Public Health Genomics Ethical, Legal & Social Adviser and co-lead of DNA Screen, states:

“We expect to identify about 1 in 75 people at high risk of these diseases. Those found to be high risk won’t necessarily get the disease, but pinpointing risk before symptoms appear enables prevention through regular check-ups, medication, or risk-reducing surgery. It could save their life.

“If successful, this approach could dramatically improve access to genetic testing on a wide scale and save countless lives across a range of conditions.”

Participants who receive a high-risk result will speak with a genetic counsellor who can outline a preventative strategy and connect them with ongoing clinical support.

Australians aged 18-40 can register for the project here.

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