NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that increase the risk of breast cancer for women also do the same in men.
Men can develop breast cancer, although they account for only about 1 percent of breast cancer cases. Previous studies have shown that men who carry mutations in the BRCA2 gene are at greater risk of developing breast cancer than men in the general population. Now, new research suggests that the same is true for men with BRCA1 mutations.
Dr. Sining Chen from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues studied data on 1,939 families that included 97 male patients with breast cancer.
“At all ages, the cumulative risks of male breast cancer were higher in both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers than in noncarriers,” the researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The likelihood of developing breast cancer was highest for men in their 30s and 40s and decreased with increasing age. For example, for BRCA2 mutation carriers, 30-year-old men were 22 times more likely to develop breast cancer than carriers at 70 years of age.
The risk was higher for BRCA2 than BRCA1 mutation carriers. The investigators calculate that, by age 70, the chances of developing breast cancer are 1.2 percent for male BRCA1 mutation carriers and 6.8 percent for men with the BRCA2 mutation.
They point out that these estimates of risk are “important for determining appropriate risk management strategies” for male members of families with mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2.
SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, December 5, 2007.