Breast cancer helpline

A cancer charity has set up a support group aimed specifically at the Jewish community.

The National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline's new online forum will help those at highest risk of developing the disease due to genes prevalent in Ashkenazi Jews.

Ashkenazim are more likely than the general population to carry mutations found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which increase the risk of developing ovarian, breast and prostate cancer.

The forum will be run by 28-year-old north Londoner Michelle, who carries the faulty gene.

"It was a terrible shock, even though I was expecting it," she said. "I lost my mum to cancer nearly two years ago, aged just 56. And my grandma had cancer, aged 36. My mum lost two aunts and two cousins to the disease, all under the age of 55. This group is here to provide mutual support for all those who are similarly affected."

One-in-40 Ashkenazim carry one of the three common Jewish mutations.

Women carrying the gene need annual screenings. Many elect to have a mastectomy without developing the disease in the hope of preventing it.

For more details, visit www.breastcancergenetics.co.uk or contact the 24-hour helpline on 01629 813000.

    Last updated: 11:46am, September 8 2011