Thursday, March 26, 2009

Congresswoman Carries a BRCA2 mutation

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and learned that she carries a BRCA2 mutation. She underwent a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and oophorectomy to greatly reduce the risk of a second primary breast cancer and a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

During her announcement she also proposed the EARLY Act, a national education campaign to increase awareness of breast cancer in younger women, 15-40. The bill would take into account the heightened risk some ethnic groups face – groups like Ashkenazi Jews, who are at an increased risk of carrying a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. The legislation also provides assistance to organizations to support young women diagnosed with breast cancer and help them get the assistance they need, including social and psychological support, fertility counseling and recurrence prevention training.

To watch her interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, please click on the above light blue link or visit

The New York Times also featured her in an article. Please visit Read more!

Friday, March 13, 2009

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Colon cancer affects ~150,000 individuals every year and is equally common in men and women. The disease, however, is largely preventable with regular screening and is treatable with early detection. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons recommends regular colorectal cancer screenings for men and women beginning at age 50. However, if you have a family history of colon cancer, you may wish to discuss early screening with your physicians. In general, individuals with a family history of colon cancer begin screening ~10 years earlier than the earliest diagnosis in their family. For more information about Colon Cancer Awareness Month please visit

Colon cancer can also be hereditary in some families, although the majority of cancers are not hereditary. We recommend that individuals consider genetic counseling if they have a personal and/or family history of any of the following:

1. Colon or endometrial cancer diagnosed before the age of 50.

2. Multiple relatives on the same side of the family with the same or related cancers (e.g. colon/uterine/ovarian)

3. More than one HNPCC cancer diagnosis in a single individual (e.g. colon and uterine, synchronous/metachronous colon cancers, colon and ovarian).

4. Individuals with greater than 15 gastrointestinal polyps, multiple polyposis or greater than 5 hamartomatous polyps.

5. Even one sebaceous carcinoma or adenoma.

6. Colon or endometrial cancer that has an abnormal MSI or IHC; or

7. Known genetic mutation in the family (HNPCC, FAP, etc.).

To learn more about genetic counseling and testing please visit our program web site by clicking on the above light blue link or by visiting You may also wish to visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors website at to find a counselor closer to where you live. Read more!

Row for Hope

On January 1st at 6 AM, Paul Ridley began his 2950-mile, solo, unsupported, trans-Atlantic journey rowing from the Canary Islands to Antigua with the goal of raising $500,000 for Yale Cancer Center. He is now on his 71st day of rowing and hopes to reach Antigua at the end of the month. Visit Paul's blog by clicking on the above light blue link or by visiting Additional information about his journey can also be found at or on Yale Cancer Center Answers at (Airdate - November 23rd) Read more!