I applaud Dr, Neugut for bringing attention to our community about Mary-Claire King and mutations in BRCA (BReast CAncer) genes (“The Beach Boys Summer IV: Mary-Claire King and the BRCA Genes” July 26, 2023). I would add that while approximately one in 400 individuals in the general population carries a mutation in the genes, the frequency is one in 40 of those with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry—a 10x greater risk! It was so important that the article mentioned how these gene mutations can be carried by men and women and that the cancers associated with these genes go beyond breast cancer alone. It’s critical that men and women learn their family history and pay attention to more than breast cancer. Ovarian, prostate, male breast, melanoma and pancreatic cancer can be related to BRCA gene mutations. Other cancers, like colon and uterine cancer, may also be hereditary, and there are other genes that we can test for that predispose to these and even other rare cancers.
There are measures we can do today to protect our health. For guidance on how to track your family history and for concerns related to hereditary cancer, contact Sharsheret for a free and confidential consultation. Call 866.474.2774 or email [email protected]
Peggy Cottrell, genetic counselor