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It’s All In Your/My Family

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

I was about 10 years old and I remember it like it was yesterday. I decided to ask

my mom how she and dad decided to name me, “Harvey Irwin”? It wasn’t like it

was a ‘Common Name’ nor a “Cool Name”.

She explained that the Jewish faith names kids after someone who had passed

away to honor them. I was named after my mom’s two brothers who both passed

away from cancer in their 30’s. It hit me hard. Was I destined to get cancer and

die young like them? To me, it was more about superstition and fate, NOT about


As it turned out, IT WAS ALL ABOUT GENETICS!

This week is “Hereditary Cancer Week”. I have survived two different hereditary

cancers. (Breast and Prostate) Both were passed on to me from my mom. My

sister has survived four breast cancer diagnoses, also caused by the BRCA2

Mutation. My mom and her sister also had breast cancer.

The past 25 years have brought us amazing insight as we continue to learn more

about how genetic mutations and your heredity puts you at risk for many deadly

cancers. More importantly, it provides us with the methods to understand your

risks and hence catch these potentially deadly diseases in the early stages.

Hereditary cancer puts your life at risk, but knowing these risks can also save your

own life! It helped me to save mine.

Most guys who are diagnosed with Male Breast Cancer find out much too late. It’s

not a common disease in men, so they tend to ignore symptoms and are hardly

ever screening in advance for this disease. My sister and mom had breast cancer,

so at an early sign, that most men would disregard, I went to get it checked.

If you know your family history and there’s cancer in the tree, genetic testing will

help you to identify any potential risks. On the flip side, it may just put your mind

at ease to know you do not carry a deadly mutation.

If you know, you can screen earlier and more efficiently. Mammograms for men is

not a normal screening process, UNLESS you have predisposition. Early PSA

testing and continued follow up, can identify prostate cancer risks. EUS

(Endoscopic Ultrasound) will help to catch early pancreatic cancer issues.

Melanoma, another BRCA Mutation cancer, allows for twice a year surveillance.

Everyday, our scientific community is working hard to identify more and more

genetic mutations, causing all types of diseases. Certain cancers can now be

treated with specific targeted therapies for exactly the genetic mutation that

caused that cancer to manifest. Parp Inhibitors are a great example of this

revelation. Parp specifically works by targeting the mutation, repairing it, even

after the cancer has developed. Once repaired, the cancer begins to dissipate.

Take some time to speak with all members of your family about the past medical

history. Remember that Dads can pass mutations to sons or daughters and your

mom can pass to her son or daughters. Hereditary cancer is genderless.



And, you will have a great chance to KNOW HOW to keep Living the Good Life!

Harvey I. Singer, Editor & Co-Founder


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