Monday, May 16, 2016

Gene mutation may portend four times the risk

Men worry about defective breast cancer genes as possible clue to deadly prostate cancer

Holy cow, it wasn't enough that I worried about women I know having BRCA1 and 2 mutant genes that portend breast and ovarian cancers.

Now I'm worrying about the guys, too.

Seems that, according to a recent article in The Washington Post by Laurie McGinley, men (like me) are becoming more aware that the defective genes — "the kind that prompted actress Angelina Jolie to have her breasts and ovaries removed preemptively," the story notes — have also been linked to aggressive, potentially deadly prostate cancer.

McKinley writes that "men with these mutations are more likely than non-carriers to contract aggressive, lethal prostate cancer, to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage and to ultimately die of the disease, researchers say."

A study recently presented to a meeting of  the American Urological Association found 17 percent of patients with BRCA2 "already had advanced [prostate] disease, four times the rate of patients without the mutation," the article states. 
Dr. Bruce Montgomery

McKinley's story quotes Dr. Bruce Montgomery, an oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance-University of Washington Medical Center as saying, "The problem is, everyone associates this with women and their cancers. In men's minds, BRCA is about breast cancer, so they don't see it as relevant."

The implication, of course, is that they're wrong. It is not only relevant, knowledge about the mutation is a crucial part of a health-education learning curve.

Although "an estimated 12 percent of women will develop breast cancer during their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute," McKinley's story says, "that proportion rises to as high as 65 percent of women who inherit a BRCA1 mutation and about 45 percent for those with a BRCA2 defect."

Men with the BRCA mutation also are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Currently, more than 2,000 American males contract that disease each year.

To learn even more about the BRCA defects, check out "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," the VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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