Monday, September 27, 2010

It's National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week!

For Immediate Release

September 16, 2010

National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week Passes House Unanimously FORCE Applauds Effort to Raise Awareness of Hereditary Cancers

WASHINGTON, DC—This week, in a unanimous show of support, the House of Representatives voted to pass a resolution designating the first-ever National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Week and National Previvor Day.

Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) worked with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) to draft the measure and conducted an extensive advocacy campaign to sign the 93 cosponsors for H Res 1522.

National HBOC Week 2010 will take place the last week of September (September 26 – October 2, 2010) to raise awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. National Previvor Day, the last Wednesday of September (September 29, 2010), will call attention to the many individuals who carry an inherited predisposition to cancer but have not developed the disease.

“Three-quarters of a million Americans are estimated to carry an inherited gene mutation that causes a strong predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer,” explained Wasserman Schultz. “These hereditary risk factors affect thousands of American ‘previvors’—survivors of a predisposition to cancer.”

Certain genetic mutations significantly increase risk of breast and ovarian cancer. “BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations place a woman’s lifetime breast cancer risk as high as 85% and ovarian cancer risk as high as 50%, both significantly greater than that of the general population. Families with an inherited BRCA mutation have the highest known risk for both cancers, and multiple family members are often affected. This is a community that faces a disproportionate cancer burden," said FORCE Executive Director Sue Friedman. “Knowledge of a genetic predisposition to cancer, available risk management and treatment options will save lives. Through this resolution we also hope to raise awareness of the unmet need for more research and resources for these families.”

Knowing one’s family health history is critical. Cancers tend to be more aggressive in women with BRCA mutations, and occur at a younger age, when individuals are less likely to undergo routine cancer screening. Cancer screening recommendations for high-risk populations differ from those for the general public, and more aggressive surveillance is needed. Thus, awareness of an inherited predisposition to cancer may lead to earlier detection and preventive strategies that ultimately reduce the chance of dying from cancer.

FORCE has special HBOC Week and Previvor Day events taking place in numerous locations around the country including Washington, DC, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco.

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FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered ( is a national nonprofit organization devoted to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. FORCE was founded in 1999 to assure that no one would ever have to face hereditary breast or ovarian cancer alone. Through our programs, FORCE promotes research of hereditary cancer; educates people about cancer risk, prevention, detection and treatment; and advocates for resources and legislation to address the needs of our community. Read more!

Who Owns Your Genes? It's not you. And that matters.

Please visit the above light blue link for the full article published in Self Magazine this month about how patents are impacting BRCA testing.

Her is an excerpt from the article:

Myriad's monopoly on BRCA has also prevented genetics counselors and other clinicians from giving patients valuable information about their genes that Myriad couldn't yet provide. In 2006, researchers at the University of Washington at Seattle showed that Myriad's BRCA analysis was missing about 12 percent of mutations in breast cancer patients with a strong family history of the disease. "We could test for the missing mutations at our lab, so I contacted Myriad and told them we'd like to offer that to patients," says Ellen Matloff, director of Cancer Genetic Counseling at Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Connecticut. "They said no, that they were going to offer the test once they'd completed their research. More than a year passed before they started offering it, now called the BRAC Analysis Rearrangement Test [BART]. We had to sit here that whole time knowing some patients had mutations that were being missed.” Read more!