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Jewish Women’s Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genetic Study

Harry Ostrer, MD at New York University School of Medicine
Study abstract

Breast and ovarian cancer are significant health problems among women, affecting up to 10% of the population. Genetic susceptibility is suspected in up to 15% of women who develop these diseases and who have one or more affected close relatives. The discovery of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in the 1990s accounted for a large proportion of individuals with this genetic susceptibility. Yet many women with breast cancer and a strong family history do not have a demonstrable mutation in BRCA1 or 2, suggesting the possibility of other susceptibility genes. Also, some women who inherit a deleterious mutation in one of these genes never develop cancer. These findings suggest the presence of heretofore unidentified causative and protective genetic modifiers of breast and ovarian cancer. The goals of this study, therefore, are to identify new genes that convey risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer among Jewish women and to identify modifier genes that reduce a woman’s risk for developing cancer despite her inheriting a mutation in BRCA1 or 2.

Study review

This study at New York University School of Medicine and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City, is studying DNA from Ashkenazi Jewish women for two reasons: to try to identify new genes that might reduce breast and ovarian cancer risk in women who have a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation; and to try to identify genes, other than BRCA 1 and BRCA2, that increase breast and ovarian cancer risk in Ashkenazi Jewish women. The researchers initially wanted to enroll at least 1,000 women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent; they later increased their enrollment goal to a minimum of 2,000 women after the tremendous response from Army of Women members. The Call to Action for this study was sent to Army of Women members on November 10, 2010. When the researchers closed enrollment on June 9, 2011, the Army of Women had provided them with 4,620 women who were interested in enrolling in the study.

Research Webinar:
Jewish Women’s Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genetic Study

Resulting Publications: