But I’m a man!?

If you’re a man and wondering how this topic is relevant then read on.

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to BRCA is that getting tested isn’t relevant or important for men.  

In reality, this is far from the truth and here is why:  

1.Men have BRCA genes and can be born with faults, often called mutations, in one of their BRCA genes.  

Just like women, men have both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and they play the same role in both sexes – the prevention of cancer through repair of potentially cancer-causing DNA damage.  Equally men, like women, can inherit a BRCA gene mutation from either of their parents.   

2. Men with BRCA gene mutations have increased cancer risks 

Men with a BRCA mutation are at increased risk for cancer. Most importantly, men with a BRCA2 mutation have a 27% chance of developing prostate cancer, and this is double that of an average man in the general population (without a BRCA gene mutation). In addition, BRCA1 mutations may slightly increase male breast cancer risk  to 0.4% (this is still relatively low risk).  BRCA2 mutations increase male breast cancer risk by 40 fold to 4%; and increase pancreatic cancer risk from 1% (in the general population) to 3%.  

3. Men with BRCA mutations can pass these on –to their sons or daughters 

Just as with a woman, a man with a BRCA gene mutation can pass this on to both his sons and daughters. For a couple in which the male partner has a BRCA gene mutation, there is a 50% chance with each pregnancy that the mutation is passed on.  

4. Men with BRCA mutations can take steps to manage their increased cancer risk 

Men with BRCA gene mutations can take active steps to manage their increased cancer risks. For example they can be aware of symptoms to look out for and regularly check for these so that if cancer is developing it is diagnosed in time. There are also cancer screening trials available for some men with a BRCA mutation to take part it, which may identify cancer early.  

5. Men with BRCA mutations can take steps to avoid passing the mutation on to their future children 

Men with a mutation are at risk of passing this on to their future sons or daughters. Many men would prefer to prevent this altogether, so that their children will not have to face the same challenges. Fortunately, there are reproductive options to allow couples in which the man (or woman) has a BRCA mutation, to actively avoid having a child with the mutation too. You can read more about this here. 

 If you want to hear more about the experiences of men with BRCA mutations, then you can find this here .