“We should be testing people who are still healthy at a stage when we can prevent the disease”
Dr. Levy-Lahad, Program Director.
Prevention GENEration Program was established by the NCF in conjunction with the Israel Cancer Association and the Israel Genetics Consortium in September 2014. The program was created by Rosa Dembitzer after personally surviving hereditary breast and ovarian cancer caused by a BRCA 1 mutation. The aim of the program is to increase awareness and testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer focusing on genetic mutations such as BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. Women that carry these gene mutations have a higher than usual risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Men can have an increased risk of breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer as well.
The program started in Israel where there is a large percentage of Ashkenazi Jews in the population and can have a large impact in society. Its estimated that there are 44,000 carriers in Israel. The program is currently implemented in ten major Israeli Hospitals under world renown genetic Doctor Ephrat Levy-Lahad. Dr. Levy-Lahad and her team will keep data that will benefit carriers all over the world. Dr. Levy-Lahad recently published her latest study on BRCA published all over the world including the New York Times.
To accomplish its goals, the program has a website with a family medical history questionnaire. People that test high in the questionnaire receive a letter urging them to get genetic testing. They can present this letter to their doctor for a testing referral. Until this date, 41,980 individuals have entered the family questionnaire seeking guidance and answers. There are informational brochures in three languages on line and in oncology departments of hospitals and a strong awareness campaign in national newspapers and magazines. In addition, our program coordinator visits oncological nurses and doctors to promote our program and the need for genetic testing for BRCA mutations. Advocacy is a key component of the program, we are fighting to change requirements for testing at the National Level. Our alliance with the Israel Cancer Association establishes the program in a unique position to fight for change.
It’s estimated that one in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish Women-about 2.5 per cent- carry a BRCA 1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, compared to one in every 800 of the general population. In the Ashkenazi population there are three common mutations that are easy to check at low cost. Among Ashkenazi Jews in Israel, 10% of breast cancer and 40% of ovarian cancer are caused by these mutations. The program encourages high risk individuals to undergo genetic testing and counseling in order to develop a risk management program that will increase survivability and quality of life for the carriers of these mutations. Genetic mutations can be identified by a simple blood test. Genetic counseling is needed to deal with the implications of a positive test result and developing a risk management plan such as regular medical surveillance- annual MRI and mammograms- and prevention measures which have been shown to reduce mortality. Carriers have a 50% probability of passing these mutations to their children. These mutations run in families, identifying one carrier can alert other family members to get tested as well.
Our BRCA Journey that lead to establishing Prevention GENEration Program
Prevention – GENEration: Professor Ephrat Levy-Lahad
Please visit the Prevention GENEration website:
English Website: http://en.cancer.org.il/template_e/default.aspx?PageId=8733
Family History Questionnaire: http://ica-cancer-form.herokuapp.com/form