About BRCA genetic mutations
Different BRCA genetic mutations have been found in all communities in Israel – Jewish communities from European, Iraqi, Russian, North African, Indian & Spanish descent; Muslim communities; Druze communities and Christian Soviet communities.
Genetic mutations may be inherited from your mother or father.
Women with a BRCA mutation have a much higher lifetime risk for breast cancer, up to 87%, 6-7 times more than the general population, much of the risk occurs at a younger age.
Women with a BRCA mutation have a much higher lifetime risk, up to 50%, or 30 times more than the general population, to develop ovarian cancer.
All mutation carriers must have a comprehensive surveillance plan. The only active way to lower your risk is by undergoing risk reducing operations.
Men with a BRCA mutation also face an increased risk for certain cancers but a much lower risk than women with a mutation. The importance for a man to know his genetic status is so that he can have extra surveillance for cancer from a younger age, and it provides invaluable information on cancer risk for his children and siblings.
For young mutation carriers there are unique issues that must be dealt with such as when to tell a prospective partner, fertility preservation and the possibility to check the fetus for a genetic mutation.
For those with a cancer diagnosis there is today the possibility of going through deep genetic testing of the tumor and if there is a mutation one can find a drug that will specifically treat your cancer.
In addition to the BRCA genes discovered by Dr Marie-Claire King in 1994, 1995 today there are nearly 30 genes that if mutated raise the risk of certain cancers. To know your risk for cancer you can do a genetic test which is a simple blood test.
Although in most countries the criterion for doing a genetic test is related to your family history, it is crucial to know that research shows that 50% of mutation carriers have no family history of cancer.
Only through comprehensive genetic testing can you know your personal risk of cancer.
But that is the knowledge that can help you prevent cancer or change the treatment and outcome if you already have hereditary cancer.
Knowledge is power – power to save lives.