Results of a new study support what researchers have known for some time: there is a connection between breast cancer and prostate cancer—at least when it comes to certain genes. The new study reports on how a breast cancer gene impacts prostate cancer. That is, men who have the mutated breast cancer gene BRCA1 are nearly four times more likely to develop prostate cancer than men without the gene.
The BRCA1 (breast cancer 1, early onset) gene is a tumor suppressor gene, and it produces a protein that helps prevent cells from growing and dividing uncontrollably, as occurs in cancer. BRCA1 genes also provide instructions for making a protein involved in repairing damaged DNA.
Mutated BRCA1 genes carry a cancer risk and can be inherited from either parent.
Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust reported that out of 913 men who underwent prostate cancer screening, three-quarters of those who had the mutated BRCA1 gene were diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 64, indicating that having the mutated gene might be an early warning for men with a greater risk of developing the disease at a younger age.
According to Prostate Action Chief Executive Emma Malcolm, “We’ve long known about the link between breast cancer and prostate cancer and this research confirms the likelihood of men developing prostate cancer from the inherited faulty BRCA1 gene.” Early detection of men with the mutated BRCA1 gene could allow doctors to monitor them for prostate cancer from a younger age.
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.
Leongamornlert D et al. Germline BRCA1 mutations increase prostate cancer risk. British Journal of Cancer 2010 Apr 19; 106: 1697-1701