BRCA in Men

Men who carry BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are at an increased risk of several cancers that can develop throughout their lives. Male BRCA2 carriers are at particularly high risk of developing prostate cancers that are more likely to be aggressive and diagnosed at a younger age, as well as male breast cancers. Knowing if you carry these genes may impact how doctors choose to proceed if early signs of cancer are detected or what types of early screening doctors might recommend. There are also options for screening and prevention of cancer available to men at high risk. Whether or not a male carrier ever develops cancer through his lifetime, he is still able to pass on the BRCA genes to his children.

This site focuses on BRCA gene mutations in the Ashkenazi Jewish population in support of the BC Ashkenazi Jewish community. About 90% of carriers in the Ashkenazi Jewish population carry one of the following three mutations – the so-called “founder mutations” – BRCA1 185delAG, BRCA1 5382insC, and BRCA2 6174delT. You can find information below on the risk profiles for each of these mutations in men.


BRCA1

There are two primary BRCA1 genes found in the Ashkenazi Jewish population: BRCA1 185delAG is the most common BRCA1 mutation and BRCA1 5382insC is the less common BRCA1 mutation. Both are similar in terms of their cancer risks (reported below), but there is some evidence BRCA1 5382insC carriers may not be at the same degree of increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer (Gleason score 7-10), as BRCA1 185delAG carriers.

Prostate Cancer

  • The lifetime risk for a man with a BRCA1 mutation is about 16 percent compared to 12 percent on average. Men with BRCA1 mutations may be more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer (Gleason score 7-10) than men without an inherited mutation.

Male Breast Cancer

  • There is a slight increased lifetime risk of male breast cancer (about 2%) in BRCA1 carriers.

Other Cancers

  • The lifetime risk for a person with a BRCA1 mutation is about 5% compared to 1% on average.
  • Some research suggests that BRCA1 mutations BRCA1 carriers are at 4 times the lifetime risk of colorectal cancer. They may also be at increased risk for all cancers, such as laryngeal and stomach cancers, and melanoma (average 2.6 times the risk). However, because these studies are not conclusive, genetics experts often look at a person’s family history of cancer to help people with BRCA1 mutations understand their risk.


 

BRCA2

BRCA2 6174delT is the primary ‘founder mutation’ carried in people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Half of all BRCA carriers in the Ashkenazi Jewish population will carry this mutation.

Prostate Cancer

  • The lifetime risk for a man with a BRCA2 mutation is about 32% compared to 12% on average. Prostate cancers in men with inherited BRCA2 mutations may be more aggressive than in men without an inherited mutation. Some limited data suggests there is 3.5 times the risk of developing a potentially aggressive prostate cancer (Gleason score 7-10) with younger average age of diagnosis.

Male Breast Cancer

  • The lifetime risk for a man with a BRCA2 mutation is about 7 percent. Breast cancers in men with inherited BRCA2 mutations tend to occur at a younger age than men who do not have an inherited mutation.

Other Cancers

  • The lifetime risk for pancreatic cancer for a person with a BRCA2 mutation is about 5% compared to 1% on average.
  • Research on how mutations in the BRCA2 gene affect cancer risk is ongoing. Some research suggests that BRCA2 mutations are at 12 times the lifetime risk of lymphoma. BRCA2 may also increase risk for all cancers, such as laryngeal and stomach cancers and melanoma (average 1.8 times the risk). However, because these studies are not conclusive, genetics experts often look at a person’s family history of cancer to help people with BRCA2 mutations understand their risk for additional cancers.