Men who carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation have a 7.1% chance of developing breast cancer by age 70 and an 8.6% chance of developing the disease by age 80, according to the results of a study published early online in the Journal of Medical Genetics.
Inherited mutations in two genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2—have been found to greatly increase the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer (as well as ovarian cancer in women). Alterations in these genes can be passed down through either the mother’s or the father’s side of the family. Research is ongoing to determine the level of risk presented by these genetic mutations; however, very few studies have focused on male BRCA carriers.
In only the fourth study to do so, researchers from the UK assessed the lifetime risk of breast cancer among men with the BRCA2 mutation. Previous studies have suggested that the BRCA2 mutation places men at higher risk of breast cancer than the BRCA1 mutation.
Using a database that included all male first-degree relatives of BRCA2 carriers over the age of 20, the researchers identified 321 families with proven mutations and 905 male first-degree relatives of proven BRCA2 carriers. Performing a retrospective and prospective analysis of the data, the researchers ascertained that the risk of male BRCA2 carriers developing breast cancer by age 70 was 7.1% and by age 80 was 8.6%.
The researchers concluded that this risk was sufficient to warrant increased awareness about breast cancer among men in BRCA2 families.
 Evans DG, Susnerwala I, Dawson J, et al. Risk of breast cancer in male BRCA2 carriers. Journal of Medical Genetics [early online publication]. June 28, 2010.