More often associated with female breast cancer, the BRCA genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2) are, however, also associated with an increased risk of cancer in males. Men’s breast cancer is very real. A man who carries a pathogenic variant (associated with the disease) in one of these genes will have an increased risk of developing prostate, pancreas or (male) breast cancer. As it can be passed on from both mother and father, families who are aware of the presence of a BRCA variant in their family tree should consult a genetic counselor.
A man with a variant can also pass the same variant on to his children, who will in turn be at higher risk of developing certain cancers. A man with the medical or family history listed below, both maternal and paternal, should consider discussing this with a genetic counselor:
- Breast cancer before the age of 45;
- Triple-negative breast cancer before the age of 60;
- A second cancer in the other breast or in the same breast or breast cancer followed by another cancer (in the same person);
- Ovarian cancer;
- Men’s breast cancer;
- Pancreatic cancer;
- Metastatic prostate cancer or before the age of 55;
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and a diagnosis of one of the cancers mentioned above.
If you recognize yourself in one or more of these antecedents, a meeting with a genetic counselor will allow you to assess your risks and, if relevant, to perform genetic testing to determine if you are a carrier of certain genetic variants associated with a genetic predisposition to cancer. Knowing your genetic allows you to have screening adapted to your level of risk and early treatment.