Ethical issues related to BRCA gene testing in Orthodox Jewish women
Nursing Ethics 2008 July; 15(4): 512-522
Persons exhibiting mutations in two tumor suppressor genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have a greatly increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. The incidence of BRCA gene mutation is very high in Ashkenazi Jewish women of European descent, and many issues can arise, particularly for observant Orthodox women, because of their genetic status. Their obligations under the Jewish code of ethics, referred to as Jewish law, with respect to the acceptability of various risk-reducing strategies, may be poorly understood. In this article the moral direction that Jewish law gives to women regarding testing, confidentiality, and other issues is explored. The intent is to broaden nurses' knowledge of how a particular religious tradition could impact on decision making around genetics testing, with the aim of enhancing their understanding of culturally sensitive ethical care.
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