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Male breast cancer risk from faulty gene

7th July 2010

A study has found that men who inherit the BRCA2 gene are 7.1% more likely to develop breast cancer by the time they reach the age of 70.

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Researchers at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester looked at 321 families who carried the faulty gene.

The gene can be passed to both men and women, and can cause breast cancer. However, male cases of the disease are very low, with around 300 cases in Britain annually, in comparison to more than 45,000 in women.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Medical Genetics, looked at information gathered about families who lived in Manchester and Birmingham.

The researchers found 16 cases of breast cancer in men who had a first degree relative who carried the BRCA2 gene. Eight more cases of the disease were found in men with a second degree relative who carried the gene.

The danger of a man with the BRCA2 gene developing breast cancer was 7.1% by the age of 70 and increased to 8.4% once they reached 80 years of age.

Lead researcher Prof Gareth Evans, from St Mary's Hospital in Manchester said: "There is a one in 1,000 chance of developing breast cancer as a man in the general population."

"Men don't have to have a faulty copy of BRCA2 to get breast cancer, but the highest risk for men is if they have a faulty copy of the gene."

 

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