Breast Cancer & What Everyone Should Know

9ae79c50b7883072fcf1bdef68ce28aaBreast Cancer & What Everyone Should Know

According to the Harvard Medical School, in 2017, about 255,180 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. alone. Today, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Therefore, understanding breast cancer and its symptoms is important, and therefore knowing that it can be treated.

In this weeks post, we will be tackling the basics of breast cancer and how to identify it.

What IS breast cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when cells divide and grow without their normal control. Tumors in the breast tend to grow slowly. By the time a lump is large enough to feel, it may have been growing for as long as 10 years. (Some tumors are aggressive and grow much faster.)

The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. The most common signs are a change in the look or feel of the breast. Due to the use of regular mammography screening, most breast cancers in the U.S. are found at an early stage, before warning signs appear. If you have any of the warning signs described below, see a health care provider.

Breast and ovarian cancer are more common among Ashkenazi Jewish women (women with ancestors from Central or Eastern Europe). This is likely due to the high prevalence of BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, but those who have an inherited mutation in either of these genes have an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Among women with breast cancer in the general population, about 2 percent carry a BRCA1/2 mutation. Between 8-10 percent of Ashkenazi Jewish women with breast cancer have a BRCA1/2 mutation.



In the US among women in 2017, it’s estimated that:

  • 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer among survivors)
  • Among Ashkenazi Jewish men and women, about 1 in 40 have a BRCA1/2 mutation
  • BRCA2 carriers have about a 45 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70



How can we support those who have breast cancer?

American Friends of Rabin Medical Center hosts The annual NYC 5K SCHLEP: Breast and Ovarian Cancer Run / Walk, which is a certified 5K that brings together hundreds of participants from the New York tri-state area, ranging in age from 6 – 90 years old, bound together in solidarity to raise the hopes of those battling breast and ovarian cancer as well as awareness and funds to help further research and treatment.

The NYC 5K SCHLEP Run / Walk benefits a BRCA Multidisciplinary Clinic to serve women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer and funds research to find cures for breast and ovarian cancers. The NYC 5k SCHLEP Run / Walk also supports studies in connection to BRCA mutation carriers. The event raises over $150,000 annually.

Registration: Adult runner/walker – $36, Youth runner/walker (18 years old and under) – $18. All cancer survivors run / walk for free.

Register yourself or create your team today at OR Call 212-279-2522 or email

2016 NYC 5K SCHLEP Flickr: 

2016 NYC 5K SCHLEP Video Highlights:





Ashkenazi Women & the BRCA Gene


Who are Ashkenazi Jews?

Ashkenazic Jews are the Jews of France, Germany, and Eastern Europe and their descendants. The adjective “Ashkenazic” and corresponding nouns, Ashkenazi (singular) and Ashkenazim (plural) are derived from the Hebrew word “Ashkenaz,” which is used to refer to Germany. Most American Jews today are Ashkenazim, descended from Jews who emigrated from Germany and Eastern Europe from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. The pages in this site are written from the Ashkenazic Jewish perspective.

What is the BRCA gene? 

Women who carry the BRCA gene mutation face a much greater chance of developing breast and / or ovarian cancers. More than 200 mutations have been identified, three of which are typical to Ashkenazi Jews. There is a 2.5% risk of carrying this mutation.


1 in 40

Ashkenazi Jews – men and women – that carry a BRCA gene mutation


Ashkenazi Jewish women that are diagnosed with breast cancer in the US who have a BRCA 1 or 2 mutation

1 in 800

People in the general population that have a BRCA 1 or 2 mutation


Jewish male breast cancer cases that carry the germline BRCA mutation


The average woman in the United States has about a 12 percent risk of developing breast cancer over a 90-year life span

15% to 40%

Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation have a lifetime risk of 15 to 40 percent for developing ovarian cancer


The 5-year survival rate for relatives of carriers of BRCA1 mutations