Men have BRCA genes and they have just the same chance of inheriting a faulty BRCA gene as women. They may have a slightly increased risk of developing certain types of cancer and they can pass on the faulty gene down to both their sons and daughters.

Breast cancer in men

The risk of breast cancer in men is about 0.1% and is more common as men get older.  Only about 8% of all male breast cancer is related to a BRCA mutation.

For men carrying a BRCA1 mutation the risk of breast cancer is about 2% and in men with BRCA2 about 8% which is still less than the risk women without mutations face.

Breast screening is not indicated for men but men with BRCA mutations should be aware that if they develop a lump or changes in the nipple they should be referred to a breast clinic for further investigations.

Prostate cancer in men

In the general population, prostate cancer is common especially as men get older.  Men have about a 14% risk for developing the disease by age 80 and the average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65-69 years.

Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are only found in 0.44% and 1.2% prostate cancer cases respectively.

Men with a BRCA1 mutation are 3-4 times more likely to develop prostate cancer by age 65 than a man without this mutation. The risk of prostate cancer is 8 times greater for men with BRCA2 mutations.

Research is ongoing looking at prostate screening for men who carry BRCA mutations and initial results suggest that an annual PSA blood test should be considered once a man with a BRCA mutation is 45 years old.

For men who have prostate cancer especially if they are under 60 years old the knowledge that they carry the BRCA mutation is important as they are more likely to have more aggressive tumours that require additional treatment.