Ashkenazi Jewish People and Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer
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13 Things. Read and share 13 Things the Jewish Community Needs to Know about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer.
Information & Research
Learn more about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, risk management and treatment options, and hereditary cancer research.
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Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish people have a higher incidence of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer than any other ethnic group.
“Thank you for sharing this important information! My family is small and my BRCA mutation came from my dad, so there wasn’t much cancer in my family. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my 30s and read about BRCA mutations in Jewish people, I decided to pursue genetic counseling and testing.”
- BRCA mutations, the gene changes that cause hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, are found in about 2.5% (one in forty) of Jewish people.
- About 40% of Jewish women with ovarian/fallopian tube cancer and 20% who have premenopausal breast cancer have a BRCA mutation.
- The majority of BRCA mutations in Jewish people occur in one of three sites along the genes. Genetic testing usually begins with a “Multisite 3” panel which looks for these common mutations and is less expensive than full BRCA testing.
- BRCA mutations are associated with other cancers. Gather your entire family cancer history and speak with a genetics expert about whether the cancers might be hereditary. Cancers related to BRCA mutations include:
» Ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal
» Male breast cancer
- People who test positive for a BRCA mutation have options to lower the risk for cancer or detect it at an earlier, more treatable stage.
- Fanconi Anemia is a rare inherited disorder that can affect children who inherit two BRCA2 gene mutations, one from each parent. If both parents have a BRCA 2 mutation, their children are at risk for this disease. This is more likely when both of the parents are of Jewish descent.
Genetic testing for BRCA is done on a blood sample or cheek swab. The test itself is simple, but it’s not always straight forward. Consulting with an expert in cancer genetics like a genetic counselor or geneticist is the best way to assure that the correct test is ordered and the results are properly interpreted.
Jewish Women Call Angelina Jolie Inspiration For Breast Cancer Surgery, May 15, 2013, Jewish Daily Forward
South Florida Jews Help Unearth Clues to Genetic Diseases, April 25, 2013, SunSentinel
Jewish Ethics and Biotech Innovation Clash in Supreme Court’s BRCA Gene Case, April 18, 2013, The Jewish Daily Forward
Mutations and Men, October 16, 2012, The Jewish Week
Confronting the Silent Killer, October 10, 2012, The Jewish Week
The Right Choice, October 9, 2012, Jewish Journal
Previvor Urges Prevention in Fighting Cancer, September 19, 2012, New Jersey Jewish Times
Jewish Men in the Middle of PSA Controversy, August 13, 2012, The Jewish Daily Forward
Delays Plague Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research, August 14, 2012, The Jewish Daily Forward
Blessing in Disguise, May 10, 2012, The Jerusalem Post
Risky Surgical Business, May 8, 2012, The Jewish Week
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