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Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program Goals Expanded

The Women's Cancer Research Institute's Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Detection Program is expanding. It now offers a variety of programs under its umbrella.

"As our knowledge about the biology and behavior of BRCA-associated hereditary cancers has evolved, the Gilda Radner Program's goals have transitioned to focus on identifying molecular modifiers and predictors of disease penetrance, allelic heterogeneity, improved screening strategies and targeted therapies," said Beth Y. Karlan, M.D., director of the program.

The updated Gilda Radner Program includes:

  • The Gilda Radner Signature Program: The purpose of this program is to learn more about cancer penetrance and to investigate epidemiologic, demographic and psychosocial factors associated with being at higher risk for cancer due to BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 alterations. All women and men with a documented BRCA mutation can enroll. Participation includes completing a questionnaire annually and providing a blood specimen, if possible.
  • The Novel Markers Trial: This NCI-funded randomized controlled trial is designed to assess the effectiveness of a novel tumor marker, HE4, in combination with CA125 and ultrasound to detect early ovarian cancer in high-risk patients. Women with a documented BRCA mutation who are over the age of 25 and have at least one ovary are encouraged to enroll.
  • CIMBA (Consortium of Investigators of Modifiers of BRCA1/2): The Gilda Radner Program is a major contributor to an international collaboration working on genetic modifiers of cancer risk in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. The aim of CIMBA is to provide sufficient sample sizes to allow large-scale studies that will reliably evaluate the interactions between these dominant mutations and other candidate genes, polymorphisms and SNPs.
  • Quality of Life: This study is working to identify stressors associated with living with an inherited risk of cancer and finding ways for participants to better cope with their daily life events.
  • Clinical Trials: Several trials focus on BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutation carriers. For example, Cedars-Sinai has been enrolling patients with BRCA mutations onto clinical trials using PARP (Poly ADP-Ribose Polymerase) inhibitors. In cells deficient in BRCA function, inhibition of the PARP pathway leads to death of the cell. This therapy has shown a 59 percent response rate in BRCA mutation carriers with recurrent ovarian cancer compared to an average response rate of less than 20 percent for other therapies used in this heavily treated population. New PARP trials will be opening soon that will include all carriers with recurrent cancers – including men with prostate or pancreatic cancer.

"We invite all physicians to contact us regarding enrollment of their patients - both men and women - who have BRCA alterations," Dr. Karlan said.

For more information, call the Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Detection Program at (310) 423-9966.