Free program explains Jewish cancer risks

“Your Jewish Genes,” a free program presenting information on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, will be presented on April 9 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.

Women of Ashkenazi (central or eastern European Jewish) descent have higher risks of developing many cancers due to a higher incidence of inherited genetic mutations. Ashkenazi women have a one in 40 chance of having a BRCA1/2 (BReast CAncer) genetic mutation, compared to a one in 800 chance in the general population. Women with a mutation on either gene have a 36 to 85% lifetime risk for breast cancer and a 15 to 40% lifetime risk for ovarian cancer. By comparison, in the general population a woman has a 12% risk of developing breast cancer by the age of 90 and less than a 2% chance of developing ovarian cancer in her lifetime.

Increased risk for other cancer types, such as pancreatic, laryngeal, stomach cancer and melanoma, may also be associated with a mutation on those genes.
Men with BRCA1/2 mutations also have increased risks of cancer – colon, prostate, pancreatic and, yes, breast cancer.

Today, genetic testing exists to determine if someone carries one of these gene mutations. “Understanding your genetic risk empowers you to take charge of your health,” says Charlene Zidell, chair of Your Jewish Genes and Cancer Planning Committee. “Please join me April 9, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, at the MJCC to learn more about ‘Your Jewish Genes and Cancer.’The program will include genetic and testing information, positive test result options as well as personal stories from members of the community. You owe it to yourself, your family and your children to learn about BRCA gene mutations and genetic testing options.”

This program will present information about the genetic predisposition, the testing process and options if one tests positive; it will also include the stories of four community members who have the BRCA gene mutation.

Among those presenting information at the program are Tanja Pejovic, MD, division chief of gynecologic oncology at Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute, and her senior research assistant, Yukie Bean, who oversees the Oregon Ovarian Cancer Registry.

Another presenter, Senior Nurse Practitioner Lisa Clark, says, “My role as a nurse practitioner with Compass Oncology has expanded to include providing genetic risk assessment for patients. I continue to be amazed at the impact this can have for patients and their families.”

Jeff Robinson, PhD in communications at Portland State University, will discuss “How to talk to your physician about your breast cancer diagnosis.”

Please bring a non-perishable food donation for the Oregon Food Bank.

Komen of Oregon & SW Washington, Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, MJCC and Sherie Hildreth Ovarian Cancer Foundation will co-sponsor the program, which is part of the Food for Thought series of symposia planned as a follow-up to last year’s four-day Food for Thought festival.


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