Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program

The Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program, a program of Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Program at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, consists of several research studies for women at highest risk for breast and ovarian cancers — those with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations.

Founded in 1991, the program utilizes the expertise of a diverse team that includes physician specialists in gynecologic oncology, surgery, radiology, pathology and genetics, as well as a support team that includes genetic counselors, research scientists, technologists and nurses. Since its inception, over 1,600 women have participated in the program.

The Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program has contributed valuable data to our understanding of ovarian cancer in high-risk women, particularly biomarker data, genetic predisposition and factors related to familial risk. The Program's goal is to gain a better understanding of the relationship of genes to the growth of specific cancers, and to learn why some mutation carriers develop breast, ovarian and other types of cancer, and why some mutation carriers do not.

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 who have had BRCA testing can enroll. Participation includes completing a questionnaire annually and providing a blood specimen, if possible.

Research currently conducted under the Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program includes:

  • 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. Also, women with at least one ovary who are over the age of 35 with a significant family history of cancer may qualify.
  • CIMBA (Consortium of Investigators of Modifiers of BRCA1/2): The Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer 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 focused on identifying 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 &ndash including men with prostate or pancreatic cancer.

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