THE Great Synagogue is set to host a function to raise awareness for ovarian cancer later this month. The event is being organised by Rabbi Benjamin Elton’s wife Hinda Young, who told The AJN how she was inspired to plan the function after a meeting with Emma Robinson of Ovarian Cancer Australia.
“I met Emma from Ovarian Cancer Australia and she spoke to me about the prevalence of mutations on the BRCA gene among Ashkenazi women,” explained Young.
“She was really keen to come together with the Jewish community to raise awareness about the risks. This is an issue that is close to my heart because my grandmother died of breast cancer at a young age and it was already advanced when she was diagnosed.”
Robinson told The AJN that Ovarian Cancer Australia is “excited to be working with Hinda and members of the Great Synagogue in Sydney”.
“Awareness is hugely important, as when ovarian cancer is caught early, the survival rate after five years is over 80 per cent,” said Robinson.
“Unfortunately, most cases are diagnosed at a late stage and the five-year survival rate is currently 43 per cent.”
Robinson added that it is particularly important that Jewish women are informed about their risks as ovarian cancer is “disproportionately found in Ashkenazi women, with 1 in 40 women affected”.
“Raising awareness of the importance of family history is vital, as approximately 20 per cent of ovarian cancers are due to inherited risk factors from either the mother’s or the father’s side of the family. For women with BRCA mutations, the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer increases significantly and can be up to 59 per cent for those with a BRCA1 mutation.”
The function will include a presentation from Dr Lesley Andrews, head of the Hereditary Cancer Clinic at Prince of Wales Hospital. Andrews will speak at the first ever international conference on Jewish genomics, to be held in Haifa in the first week of July.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, and in particular to be able to alert women who might be at increased risk and be able to advise them accordingly,” Andrews told The AJN. “Through genetic testing, we can identify women at high risk and advise them accordingly. This has been my life’s work for the past 20 years.”
Young hopes to attract “a large attendance from the entire Jewish community, extending beyond the Great Synagogue”.
“This is a Jewish issue,” she said.
For more information call the Great Synagogue office on (02) 9267 2477.