In fact, men and women have the same risk of developing BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations but the male population is made significantly less aware of this. This might be the reason why men are ten times less likely than women to get tested for a genetic mutation.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes suppress tumours from forming and help the body repair faults that occur within the gene. When someone has a genetic mutation of these genes, it means that the body isn’t able to repair the faults as easily – making cancer far more likely to develop. And when it does, the cancer is generally more aggressive and affects carriers at a younger age.
Male carriers of the BRCA mutation are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as opposed to non-carriers, but if an individual it aware of their mutation, they can receive high-risk screening from an earlier age, and should they be diagnosed, receive a far more targeted treatment.
Men are also just as likely to pass on the genetic mutation to their children. Knowing and understating their risk can critically impact their children’s future, not to mention their own.
Unfortunately, so much of the discussion surrounding BRCA, gene mutations and breast cancer is female based. So much so that we often completely forget to include men in the dialogue, helping to educate and empower them to be proactive with their preventative health management.
At Pink Hope, our hope for the future is that every individual knows and understands their risk – and that includes women and men.
For more information on how to manage your risk as a male carrier of a faulty BRCA gene, check out our full list of resources here. Alternatively, if you want to find out more about your genetic history, click here to use our ‘Ask A Genetic Counsellor’ tool.