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Men with Mutations

    Basics

Overview

Like women, men can inherit BRCA mutations. Men who inherit a BRCA mutation have an increased lifetime risk for certain cancers which is higher than the average man, but not as high as women with mutations. Men with BRCA mutations can pass their mutation on to sons or daughters. Each child has a 50% chance of inheriting their father's mutation. 

You can help scientists learn more about cancer risks in men with BRCA mutations by taking our needs assessment and research feasibility survey.  

Men who are concerned that the cancer in their family may be hereditary should consult with a genetics expert. Visit our page on finding a genetics expert to locate a specialist near you. 

Breast Cancer Risk in Men

Men who carry a BRCA mutation have a higher risk for breast cancer than men in the general population. However, the risk is still fairly low. Several small studies have determined the lifetime risk for breast cancer to be about 2% in men with BRCA1 mutations and about 8% in men with BRCA2 mutations. This is compared to a breast cancer risk in the general male population of about 0.1% (1 in 1000 men).

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends the following breast cancer surveillance for men with BRCA mutations: 

  • Breast self-exam training and regular monthly practics
  • Semi-annual clinical breast examination by a health care professional.
  • Consider a baseline mammogram and annual mammogram if baseline shows gynecomastia or breast density.

About 8% of men with breast cancer carry a BRCA mutation. This percentage is higher among male breast cancer patients who are of Jewish descent. Any man with breast cancer should consult with a genetics expert to determine if they would benefit from BRCA testing.

Prostate Cancer

In the general population, prostate cancer is common. Men have about a 14% risk for developing the disease by age 80. Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 have been linked with an increased risk for prostate cancer, particularly younger onset cancer diagnosed before age 65. The risk for prostate cancer is higher in BRCA2 mutation carriers than BRCA1 mutation carriers. BRCA2-related prostate cancer can be more aggressive and have a poorer prognosis than sporadic prostate cancer. 

The IMPACT study is a prostate surveillance research study for men with a BRCA mutation. The study will be completed in 2020 and will determine if PSA screening improves detection and outcomes in mutation carriers. Early analysis from IMPACT suggests a benefit of PSA screening in men with BRCA mutations. 

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends a PSA blood test and baseline digital rectal exam for all men with BRCA mutations, starting at age 40. 

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is very rare in the general population. The average person has less than a 1% lifetime risk for this disease. Although studies on carriers of both  BRCA1 andBRCA2 mutations have indicated an elevated lifetime risk for pancreatic cancer, the risk is still small. Other hereditary syndromes have been linked with an increased risk for pancreatic cancer including Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and HNPCC.

There is no accurate way to screen for pancreatic cancer; 75 percent of diagnoses are advanced. Researchers are trying to develop a blood test that can accurately screen for pancreatic cancer, and are exploring whether endoscopic ultrasound—passing a tiny scope with an ultrasound probe down the esophagus to the stomach— can more effectively  find abnormalities, and detect early-stage cancer in people at high risk. Visit our research study page for links to clinical trials for early detection of pancreatic cancer. 

If pancreatic cancer runs in your family, it is important to consult with a genetics specialist to determine risk and management options.

Melanoma

Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer. In the general population the average lifetime risk for melanoma is about 2%. Studies have shown a slightly increased risk for melanoma in carriers of BRCA2 mutations. Other gene mutations have been associated with an increased risk for melanoma. FORCE and Moffitt Cancer Center collaborated on a survey (unpublished) which suggested a correlation between BRCA 1 mutations and melanoma. More research is needed to confirm this link.

If melanoma runs in your family, it is important to consult with a genetics specialist to determine risk and management options.


Disclaimer: Health links are made available for educational purposes only. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice. All health information should be discussed with your health care provider. Please read our full disclaimer for more information.

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