Jewish Ancestry: Cancer Risk and Carrier Screening


Understanding your genetic health can be important, especially for people of certain ancestry groups. Genes are pieces of information that are inherited from our parents and provide instructions for how the body works. When genes are not working properly this may increase the chance for certain health conditions.

In people of Ashkenazi (European) Jewish ancestry, certain conditions are more common because of genetic differences (mutations) that have been passed on for many generations. For example, approximately 1 in 40 people of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry may have increased risk for certain cancers due to genetic mutations in the BRCA1/BRCA2 genes. Knowledge of these mutations can allow people to take steps to lower their cancer risk. Further, up to 1 in 4 people of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry carry mutations in genes for autosomal recessive conditions. Carrier screening allows couples to understand genetic health risks for their children and to make informed decisions regarding family planning. 

The William G. Rohrer Cancer Genetics Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and the Clinical Genetics Program of Cooper's Children’s Regional Hospital provide genetic screening and counseling services. 

Click on the links below to learn more about how genetic information can be important for learning about cancer risk and reproductive health, and how to schedule appointments with these programs.

Jewish Ancestry and Cancer Risk

Jewish Ancestry and Carrier Screening