Breast cancer gene fault linked to prostate cancer

July 9th, 2012

A woman who inherits a fault in the gene BRCA2 has a much higher than average risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. In a pioneering study funded by NBCF, Australian researchers studied male relatives of women with faults in the BRCA2 gene, using the kConFab1 resource of breast cancer families.

Heather_Thorne_300_300Heather Thorne and her team identified men in these families who had prostate cancer, tested them for inherited faults in the BRCA2 gene and performed genetic analysis of the prostate tumours.

After examining this data the researchers estimated that the risk of prostate cancer for men with a fault in the BRCA2 gene is four times the risk for men in the general population.

Recently the researchers examined the clinical presentation and survival of this group of men who have prostate cancer and a fault in the BRCA2 gene. They found that these men were more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer, have poor survival regardless of the treatment they received, and were more likely to die from the disease.

Accordingly, men who belong to a family with multiple cases of breast or ovarian cancer are encouraged to discuss their family history with their GP.

These findings illustrate how investing in breast cancer research can make a difference to the health of the wider community.

1The Kathleen Cunningham Foundation Consortium for Research into Familial Breast Cancer –www.kconfab.org