While within the general population about 5 percent of cancers can be attributed to a hereditary syndrome, in the Jewish community, that number is closer to 30 percent. The good news is that knowledge about how the mutation causes cancer is opening scientific doors to more effective, targeted treatment for those already diagnosed. And people who have the genetic mutation can take preventative measures to drastically reduce their breast and ovarian cancer risk.
They say brakha, I say brucha in referring to BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, the strong predictors of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer found with unusual frequency in women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Yes, "brucha," the Hebrew for blessing. Initially, I was being facetious by giving a Jewish pronunciation to the "Jewish gene"; at age 56 I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and "tumor humor" helped me cope.