BRCA1 research - Statement from Clan's CEO

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Research revealing that one in 100 people who have grandparents from Orkney have a gene variant which causes a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer has attracted considerable media attention.

Fiona Fernie, CEO of Clan Cancer Support, has commented:

“This is a significant medical finding which understandably may unsettle people in our Orkney community and those with family connections there, however it is important to note that carrying the BRCA1 gene variant does not mean you will develop cancer.

“We welcome the pilot testing scheme which is being made available to those living in Westray with a Westray-born grandparent in addition to the test already available to anyone in Scotland with a direct family connection to the gene or a family history of ovarian or breast cancer.

“Early screening and detection can bring positive outcomes for many patients and this scheme is another tool to aid catching cancer early.

“We’d encourage anyone who is concerned about this research to contact the NHS Grampian genetics clinic for medical advice. Clan will continue to support any Orcadians affected by a cancer diagnosis from its Kirkwall base and the Haven in Aberdeen which offers home-from-home accommodation and support services to people travelling to the city for medical appointments.”

NHS Grampian genetics clinic is running a helpline for queries about the gene variant linked to breast and ovarian cancer for those who have grandparents from Orkney.

The number to call is 01224 553940. Email enquiries can be directed to

GPs will not be able to assist with gene testing and any questions about this research and next steps should be directed to the helpline.

A series of FAQs and a short video explainer which outlines the findings of the research is available. It can be found on NHS Grampian’s website:

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