Jewish women this week heard how the current approach to detecting cancer-causing BRCA gene mutations in the Jewish population currently misses those most at risk.
The UCL presentation by the Eve Appeal, a charity that raises awareness of gynaecological cancer, particularly targeted Ashkenazi Jewish women, who are significantly more likely to carry the gene mutations than non-Jews.
Researchers showed how the current identification process relies on assessing someone’s family history, which misses over half the people who have the mutation and are at risk of developing cancer.
In two papers recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, they instead suggest “population screening” in the Ashkenazi Jewish community, after 56 percent of women with the mutations were missed through the existing family history criteria.
“This study shows that broadening genetic testing beyond just family history saves more lives and more money,” said Eve Appeal chief executive Athena Lamnisos. “It’s very important to share the findings of this study with the Jewish community today and enable people to take action.”
Women carrying a BRCA 1 or 2 mutation have a 15-45 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer, and a 45-65 percent chance of getting breast cancer, but enhanced screening reduces the risk substantially. Women who know they are carriers can better manage their risk of developing cancer by enhanced screening or risk-reducing surgery.