Please note that at this time, recruitment for this study has been completed and we are no longer enrolling participants.
For those who have participated, we are currently in the process of completing genetic testing. We anticipate that you should receive your results within one year of your initial appointment.
Investigators at Women's College Research Institute are conducting a large study of familial cancer in Jewish women in Ontario and some findings have already been released. As a part of the research, Jewish women were offered genetic testing for the two breast cancer genes (BRCA1/BRCA2). This study was started in 2008 by Dr. Steven Narod and Dr. Kelly Metcalfe and had upwards of 2,000 participants from across Ontario.
The purpose of this study to identify women with a genetic predisposition to developing cancer who otherwise might not come to the attention of the medical community and receive the preventive care and screening that might benefit them. We would like to know how common mutations are among the Jewish population and see if this population is satisfied with the genetic testing process or if there are ways that it could be improved. Click here to view the Investigators' Study Booklet.
The extension of this study has been funded via support from the Women’s College Hospital Foundation.
About five per cent of women in Canada with breast cancer and about 12 per cent of women with ovarian cancer are born with an inherited genetic predisposition to cancer. In many cases, these women will have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. In families with hereditary cancer, there may be several individuals affected with breast cancer or ovarian cancer in more than one generation of the family. The genetic susceptibility to develop breast and ovarian cancer in these families is passed from one generation to another, through both women and men. On average, individuals in cancer families develop cancer at a younger age than the general population and they may develop cancer in both breasts (bilateral breast cancer). Many of these family clusters of cancer are caused by inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. If individuals are known to have a genetic predisposition to cancer, many management options are available to them to reduce the risk of developing cancer or to detect cancer at an early stage.
In some populations, there are more hereditary breast/ovarian cancers than in others. This is true for the Jewish population. Both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews may inherit a mutation, but mutations are more common in Ashkenazis (Jews of Eastern European origin). In this group, about one in 45 men or women carry a genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. We can test for this genetic tendency to get cancer by a simple saliva test. Currently the test is offered in Ontario to selected women based on their personal history of cancer or their family history of cancer. We are now offering this test (as part of a research study) to all adult Jewish women in Ontario who wish to know their mutation status, including those without a personal or family history of cancer.
Participation in this study is completely voluntary. Only women who fulfill all of the following criteria may participate:
You will receive (at no charge) a BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic test for an inherited predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. The research team will be available to provide the most current information regarding genetic risk assessment and will provide a referral to screening centres for breast and ovarian cancer if requested. Women who are found to have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will receive personal genetic counselling and be given individualized cancer risks and management options. Being identified as a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carrier can mean you will have access to additional screening (such as breast MRIs) that may not otherwise be available, and referrals requested by the women will be arranged.
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A Study of Familial Cancer in Jewish Women