Men with “breast cancer gene” four times more likely to get prostate cancer
Men with a faulty gene known to increase the risk of breast cancer in women are four times more likely to develop prostate cancer.
A recent study shows that men with a mutated BRCA1 gene - found in those with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer - are more prone to a particularly aggressive form of prostate cancer.
Age is currently the greatest risk factor for the disease, with over half of cases in the UK found in men over the age of 70. However, of the 913 men screened during the study, three quarters of those with the BRCA1 mutation were diagnosed before the age of 65, a clear indication that this gene could serve as an early warning for those at risk of developing prostate cancer later in life.
Study author Professor Ros Eeles, from The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Until now there has been some doubt as to whether mutations in the BRCA1 gene increase the risk of prostate cancer. This large study has shown that men with prostate cancer have a 1 in 200 chance of having an alteration of this gene and men with this alteration have a 3.8 fold increased risk of developing the disease. This translates as nearly 9% risk of prostate cancer by the age of 65. The important thing about this result is that there are drugs that can target specific defects that occur with the BRCA1 mutation and this kind of result can open up the possibility of targeted medicines based on genetics.”
The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer