Breast Cancer Genes Also Raise Men's Risk for Malignancy

Few men understand the danger from BRCA1/2, researchers say

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FRIDAY, Dec. 14, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Men whose mothers, sisters or daughters test positive for a breast cancer-causing mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes may also have the mutation and be at increased risk for cancer, a new study finds.

Most of those men are unaware of the danger, noted researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, who examined how families discuss genetic test results.

Men with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have a 14 percent lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer and a 6 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, the study authors said.

"Despite these health implications, we have found a lack of understanding of genetic test results among men in these families," study lead author Dr Mary B. Daly, senior vice president for population science at Fox Chase, said in a prepared statement.

The researchers interviewed 24 men with a first-degree female relative who tested positive for a BRCA1 or BRAC2 mutation. All the women said they told their male relative about the test results, but only 18 of the men remembered that they were told.

About half the men (7) who did remember being told the test results didn't believe that they also had an increased risk of cancer. Only 5 of the men correctly assessed their chance of having a BRCA1 or BRCA 2 mutation.

"We devote a significant amount of time learning how best to communicate genetic test results to women, but this study shows we also need to help them communicate the information to their male family members who may be impacted by the test results," Daly concluded.

The study was expected to be presented Friday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer genetics.

SOURCE: Fox Chase Cancer Center, news release, Dec. 14, 2007

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