BRCA mutations, linked to increased risk of breast cancer, male breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma, occur in Ashkenazi Jews at rates more than ten times higher than in the general population. Overall, about 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carry a BRCA Mutation.

Read on for the Center’s current statement on BRCA and Genetic Screening. You can also learn more about hereditary cancer and how to assess your own risk.

Statement on BRCA and Genetic Screening

Revised: January 20, 2015

The Center for Jewish Genetics Recommends Genetic Counseling for All Persons Considering BRCA Testing

In the fall of 2014, studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and The Journal of the National Cancer Institute recommended that women over the age of 30 get tested for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutations to these two genes increase the risk of contracting female breast and ovarian cancer, as well as other types of cancer. Further, these three studies recommended testing regardless of family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

It is well-documented that Ashkenazi Jews have a much greater risk for carrying mutations in the BRCA1and BRCA2 genes. In fact, one in 40 individuals of Ashkenazi descent is a carrier of a BRCA mutation compared to one in 400 individuals in the general population.

Whether you have decided to get BRCA testing or are just thinking about it, the first step is to “do your homework.” You should know what to expect and what’s involved in the testing process to make an informed decision about what’s right for you.

The Center for Jewish Genetics, along with other nationally renowned institutions such as the National Society of Genetic Counselors, recommends that you:

  • Meet with a genetic counselor, or with a physician or health care provider involved with cancer treatment and prevention.
  • Discuss with that professional your family history of breast and ovarian (and other) cancer, what testing results can and cannot reveal, and the health management options that exist in the event you are tested and it reveals you are a carrier of a BRCA mutation.

We can help you get started. While the Center for Jewish Genetics has screening and education programs for the 19 Ashkenazi Jewish genetic disorders (with the option of an expanded panel of 80+ conditions), we do not offer genetic testing for BRCA. However, the Center will help identify centers near you so that you may receive the appropriate testing. Please feel free to contact our genetic counselor with any questions or concerns.


Do You Know What's In Your Genes?

What is the most valuable gift you can give to your family? The gift of good health! There are many health conditions that run in families. Knowing your family health history can alert you to the potential risk for a variety of genetic disorders . Be sure to check with your relatives for warning signs and assess your risk for hereditary cancers!

Did you know: Ashkenazi Jews are 10 TIMES more likely to have BRCA mutations, which significantly increases lifetime risks for hereditary cancers, so what does this heightened risk mean for you? Click here to learn more !