Breast Cancer Genes Are a Problem for Men Too

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported an increase in research and support, specifically for male carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations. These mutations are known for being strong indicators of breast and ovarian cancer risk, as well as other types of cancer.

"Men very much matter in this equation," said Jacquelyn Powers, MS, CGC, a genetic counselor at Penn's Basser Research Center for BRCA, during her presentation at a recent conference in Philadelphia with partner organization, FORCE.

Understanding Hereditary Cancer Risk for Male Carriers

In men, mutations in either gene raise the risk for breast cancer as well as risk for other cancers. In fact, men with BRCA1 mutations have between a 1 and 5 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer, and men with BRCA2 mutation have between a 5 and 10 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer.

Typically, a man's risk of breast cancer is 0.1 percent, or 1 in 1,000. Men who carry a BRCA mutation may also have an increased risk of prostate cancer, melanoma and pancreatic cancer.

Men, as well as women, can inherit and pass on a BRCA mutation to their children, further driving the demand for new research and support.

Penn Investigators Take Leading Role in Research

In one international study, investigators from Penn are exploring the best way to screen male carriers with increased prostate cancer risk. Men with BRCA1/2 mutations who develop prostate cancer tend to develop these cancers at an earlier age than average and may develop more aggressive forms of the disease.

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The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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