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According to the results of a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, men with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation are more likely than other men to develop breast cancer.

Inherited mutations in two genes-BRCA1 and BRCA2-have been found to greatly increase the lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women. Mutations in these genes can be passed down through either the mother’s or the father’s side of the family.

Because men can also develop breast cancer (although far less frequently than women), researchers have been interested in the relationship between BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and risk of male breast cancer. Each year in the U.S., roughly 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer.[[1]]( "_ednref1")

Previous studies have provided convincing evidence that BRCA2 mutations increase the risk of male breast cancer, but less is known about the effects of BRCA1 mutations in men.

To assess the risk of breast cancer among men who do and do not carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, researchers evaluated information from 1,939 families.[[2]]( "_ednref2") These families included 97 men with breast cancer.

  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations each increased the risk of male breast cancer. An increased risk among mutation carriers was observed at all ages, but was particularly apparent among men in their 30s and 40s.
  • Although mutations in either gene increased risk, male breast cancer was more common among men with BRCA2 mutations than among men with BRCA1 mutations. The probability of developing breast cancer by the age of 70 was 1.2% among men with a BRCA1 mutation and 6.8% among men with a BRCA2 mutation.
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The study builds upon previous findings by confirming that both BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations increase the risk of breast cancer in men. BRCA2 mutations appear to increase risk to a greater extent than BRCA1 mutations.


[[1]]( "_edn1") American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2007. Available at: (Accessed November 29, 2007).

[[2]]( "_edn2") Tai YC, Domchek S, Parmigiani G, Chen S. Breast cancer risk among male BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Journal of the National Cancer Institute [early online publication]. November 27, 2007.

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