What’s the Connection Between BRCA and Ashkenazi Jewish Ancestry? 

People who inherit mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at heightened risk for a variety of cancers, including breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic. It’s estimated that one in 300-400 people in the general population carry a mutation in either of these genes. Among people of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish descent, the prevalence is … Read more

Acquired vs. Inherited Mutations in Cancer: What You Need to Know 

A gene mutation is a change in the genetic instructions in a cell. Genes are the DNA-encoded instructions for building proteins, which are the machinery that does the work inside our cells and our bodies. Some mutations change the function of proteins in ways that increase the risk of cancer or drive its growth.   Gene … Read more

Advances in Myeloma, Breast Cancer, and Clinical Trials Equity: A Dana-Farber Research Update

Results of several phase 3 trials and dozens of other studies led by Dana-Farber researchers were presented online and in person June 3-7 at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world’s largest clinical cancer research meeting. Some of the research reports presented by Dana-Farber investigators include: Improved progression-free … Read more

Director of the Lynch Syndrome Center Shares his Personal Connection to Lynch Syndrome

Because of his adopted family’s cancer history, the director of Dana-Farber’s Lynch Syndrome Center, Matt Yurgelun, MD, is uniquely invested in helping patients with Lynch syndrome — a common and often under-diagnosed inherited condition. Eight of the 13 in his grandfather’s generation ultimately developed some form of cancer, and it wasn’t until later that Matt … Read more

PALB2 Breast Cancer Gene: What You Should Know

A relatively small proportion of breast cancers are caused by alterations in inherited genes that sharply increase the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. One of these genes has recently been receiving new attention: PALB2, a potent breast cancer susceptibility gene related to the better-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Someone who inherits a PALB2 mutation faces … Read more

BRCA Testing: What You Need to Know

What is the BRCA gene? BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a big role in preventing cancer. They belong to a class of genes called tumor suppressors, which ensure that breast, ovarian, and other types of cells don’t grow or divide too rapidly or uncontrollably. BRCA testing checks for mutations in either gene, and can help people decide … Read more

Dana-Farber Patient Benefits From ‘Growing Toolbox of Treatments’

When Dana-Farber launched its new Center for BRCA and Related Genes in August 2020, it was with patients like Janice Dolnick in mind. Dolnick’s cancer journey had already been a long one before she came to Dana-Farber for a consult in 2018. Over the previous 21 years, she’d been through two rounds of breast cancer … Read more

People with Lynch Syndrome Should Take Aspirin to Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk, Study Suggests

Patients with Lynch syndrome, who have an elevated risk of colorectal cancer, can reduce their risk by taking daily aspirin — and the protective effect persists for many years, according to the latest definitive study. This evidence comes as a result of a clinical trial in which all subjects were followed for at least 10 … Read more

When Inherited Condition Leads to Two Cancers, Young Survivor Finds Hope at Prevention Center

As one of three family members with the same first and last name, John E. Duggan found individuality through initials while growing up — becoming universally known as “Jed.” Having survived both stage III colon cancer and thyroid cancer before age 30, he is refusing to let another familial tie get him down. Duggan has MUTYH-associated polyposis (or MAP), … Read more

Breaking the Binary: Building Transvisibility in Cancer Genetic Counseling

This article was written by Donna Vatnick, BS, clinical research coordinator in Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention. Historically, cancer risk has been confined to the binary: male versus female. After the discovery of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in the mid-90s, testing of these genes was most often recommended to women. The substantially … Read more

Should I Be Screened for Pancreatic Cancer?

While screening for pancreatic cancer is not recommended for people at average risk of the disease, screening is recommended for those who carry an inherited genetic mutation associated with pancreatic cancer and have a family history of the disease. (Mutations are abnormal stretches of DNA that alter how cells grow and divide.) People with an … Read more

Living with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome is Using Knowledge as Power

Breast cancer survivor Jennifer Perry is at high risk of additional cancers during her lifetime because she carries an inherited mutation for Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS). But experts at the new Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and TP53+ Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute can help her manage that risk. While there is no treatment for LFS — a familial … Read more

What is CHEK2?

CHEK2 is the abbreviated name of the gene called checkpoint kinase 2. The gene provides cells with instructions for making the protein CHK2, which becomes active when DNA within the cell is damaged or strands of DNA break.  What does the CHK2 protein do?  CHK2 and other proteins respond to DNA damage by halting cell division and … Read more

Detecting Cancer Early: What You Should Know [Podcast]

Cancer research is often geared toward finding new and effective treatments, but researchers are also constantly trying to pinpoint ways to find cancer in its early stages, when it is often more treatable and even curable. While it’s not always possible to find cancer before it arises, incredible advancements have been made in early detection … Read more