Can men also be carriers of the BRCA gene mutation?
A man can pass the mutation down to his children at the same probability rates that a woman can. Therefore, when assessing the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, the family history of cancer on both the mother’s and father’s side is equally significant.
Also, men carrying the BRCA gene mutation may be at a higher risk of developing cancer. In comparison to the general population, a man who carries a mutation in the BRCA1 gene has a 3.5 times increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
A man carrying a mutation in the BRCA2 gene is 8.6 times more likely to develop prostate cancer than in the general population; this cancer may also be more aggressive. BRCA2 carriers are also at an increased risk (up to 8% higher) of developing breast cancer, compared to a 0.1% risk in the general population. A higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer, biliary cancer and gastric cancer has also been identified for BRCA2 carriers. The precise rate of risk of developing these particular cancers is unknown and depends largely on family history.
In light of these increased risks, it is recommended that men who are carriers undergo testing at the specialized Male BRCA Carriers Clinic at Sheba Medical Center. Follow-up at the clinic includes examination by a urologist and a breast surgeon, genetic counseling and additional tests, as needed.