CJG Blog

Center for Jewish Genetics blog

Colorectal Cancer: Know Your Family Health History

(Jewish Genetic Disorders) Permanent link

For most people, colorectal cancer screening begins around age 50. But some people need to be screened earlier based on certain risk factors. 

According to the CDC, you may be more likely to get colorectal cancer if you have a family history of the disease or a related genetic syndrome (such as Lynch syndrome or FAP). Collecting your family health history and sharing it with your doctor can help her make appropriate screening recommendations –  such as when you should be screened and which method is best for you. Your ethnic background may also play a role in determining risk. For example, Ashkenazi Jews have higher rates of colorectal cancer than other ethnic groups. Learn more about colorectal cancer in the Jewish community.

March is colorectal cancer awareness month. It’s a good time to start a conversation with your family, if you haven’t already. The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics offers resources to help you get started with your family health history and assess your cancer risk.

Read more on this topic from the CDC.

Who Should Be Screened for Genetic Disorders? ACOG Releases Revised Statements

(Jewish Genetic Disorders) Permanent link

Did you know that 1 in 4 Ashkenazi Jews carries at least one "Jewish" genetic disorder? That’s why carrier screening is an important part of family planning for Jewish and interfaith couples. The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics provides an affordable and accessible screening program for:

  • People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (at least one Jewish parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent)
  • Sephardic Jews and their partners, who may consider expanded genetic screening
  • Non-Jewish partners, since none of the disorders are exclusive to the Jewish population

Now, screening guidelines are expanding beyond ethnicity. Because many people are of mixed or unknown ancestry, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends carrier screening for all women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy.

According to the newly released ACOG guidelines, all women should be screened for spinal muscular atrophy, cystic fibrosis, and certain inherited blood disorders. Women with unexplained ovarian insufficiency and/or family history of fragile X-related disorders should also be screened for fragile X syndrome. Our carrier screening panel meets – and exceeds – the ACOG guidelines. It tests for the conditions recommended by the ACOG, as well as additional panethnic and Jewish genetic disorders. Our comprehensive program is designed to help Jewish and interfaith couples identify their genetic risks so they can plan for a healthy future. Learn more about the conditions on our panel.      

Ideally, screening should take place prior to pregnancy. Couples who know their carrier status beforehand have the most options, and carrier couples build healthy families every day!

If you are a carrier, the ACOG suggests informing other family members of the genetic risk, as well as the availability of carrier screening.

Read the full ACOG Committee Opinion Summary:

Capitol Hill Updates

(Jewish Genetic Disorders) Permanent link

by Karen Litwack

Congress is on recess and in campaign mode, but the debates and discussions around critical health issues are continuing behind the scenes.  When Congress resumes after Labor Day, there will be a number of issues that will have to be addressed prior to the election including: Zika funding, federal appropriations, and most importantly for our community, the landmark 21st Century Cures Act. Discussions are ongoing and support among Congressional leadership is growing for the legislation, which may also encompass the White House's Cancer Moonshot initiative. Meanwhile, rare disease advocates are fanning-out across the country to make sure their legislators understand the importance of this legislation. 

For more information about Rare Disease Legislative Advocates – In-District Lobby Days click on https://www.facebook.com/Rare.Disease.Legislative.Advocates/


Affordable, Accessible Genetic Screening in Illinois

Our affordable, accessible carrier screening program uses advanced technology to provide comprehensive screening for Jewish and interfaith couples. Visit our Get Screened page to learn more and register.


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 . Talk to 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 .