This site provides an overview of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes for women and men considering testing for specific faults in these genes which are associated with Jewish ancestry.
It is not designed as a resource for individuals who have already been found to carry a BRCA gene fault.
Most cases of breast and ovarian cancer occur as isolated events. However, sometimes it is because of an inherited fault in one of the many thousand genes we all carry. Studies of families with multiple cases of breast and ovarian cancer led to the identification of 2 genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2, that were linked to the cancers in some of these families.
While hundreds of different faults in these genes have now been identified, two specific faults in the BRCA1 gene and one fault in the BRCA2 gene have been shown to be much more common in people of Jewish ancestry, particularly Ashkenazim (Jews of Eastern European background).
BRCA gene faults are found in 1 in 500 people in the general population, and account for about 3% of cases of breast cancer and 17% of ovarian cancer overall.
However, these three BRCA gene faults are found in 1 in 40 individuals of Jewish decent, and account for around 10% of cases of breast cancer and 40% of ovarian cancer in Ashkenazi Jewish women.