Since the discovery of the BRCA mutations that increase the risk of breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and other cancers in women and men, our knowledge of hereditary cancers has grown exponentially.   

Research data indicate that 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers are due to a genetic mutation inherited from a parent, and about 15 percent of ovarian cancers are genetic in origin.

While people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage have a one in 40 chance of having a mutation in the BRCA genes that put them at high risk for these and other cancers, the mutations also occur in one in 400 in the general population. The recent news that Mathew Knowles, father of the performing artist Beyoncé, has male breast cancer and is BRCA2-positive has shone a new light on hereditary cancer.  

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The public is invited to learn more about this topic in a free program, "Knowledge is Power: What You Need to Know About Hereditary Cancer Risk" at the East Brunswick Public Library at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 23. The library is located at 2 Jean Walling Civic Center Drive.  

The program is sponsored by the East Brunswick Chapter of Hadassah in partnership with the library’s “Just for the Health of It” initiative.

In this informative program, medical and genetics experts from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, along with a BRCA-positive “previvor,” will discuss how individuals can understand, determine and reduce hereditary cancer risk for themselves and their families.

Speakers:

Dr.  Shridar Ganesan is associate director for translational science, section chief of molecular oncology and Omar Boraie Chair in Genomic Science at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He studies the biology of the BRCA 1 and 2 genes and is working on the next generation of targeted treatments for breast cancer with experts across multiple disciplines.

Sherry Grumet is a licensed, board-certified genetic counselor working as program director of the LIFE Center at The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling. She is on the faculty of the Rutgers School of Arts & Sciences.

Abby Grayson is a licensed professional counselor who is BRCA1-positive and a “previvor.” Grayson discovered her hereditary risk after a friend, Sheryl Lanman Nichols, urged her to get tested.

Information also will be available from local and national organizations that provide education and support on hereditary cancers.

The program is coordinated by East Brunswick resident Sandra Lanman in memory of her daughter, Sheryl Lanman Nichols, who died of breast cancer at 34 in 2015.

For further information, email ebprogramming@gmail.com.