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Breast cancer gene increases prostate cancer risk four fold

A faulty gene that increases the chances of breast cancer in women has been found to raise the risk of prostate cancer in men four fold.Breast cancer gene increases prostate cancer risk four foldMen with a strong family history of either cancer in their family could be offered genetic tests to discover if they are carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene so their health can be monitored from an early age.

Men with the BRCA1 gene have a one in 11 chance of developing prostate cancer by the age of 65, it was found.

The faulty gene seemed to be linked to a particularly agressive form of cancer making early detection and treatment vital.

The study was conducted by the The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and published in the British Journal of Cancer.

In breast cancer BRCA1 increases the chances of developing the disease by five fold, giving them a six in ten chance of breast cancer compared with a one in eight chance for healthy women.

It has led some women with faulty genes to have preemptive mastectomies rather than live with high risk of breast cancer.  BRCA1 is also associated with ovarian cancer.

In the study 913 men underwent genetic screening, with results obtained from 886 and four men were found to have alterations in BRCA1. Three out of those four men were diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65.

As well as detecting BRCA1 in men with a history of cancer in their families to identify those at greater risk, genetic screening of men who already have the disease could improve their treatment, the researchers said.

There are already drugs in use that target BRCA1.

The findings come after other research showed that HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound) can provide the ‘perfect’ outcome for nine out of ten men with early stage prostate cancer. The majority of men treated were continent, had good sexual function and were free of cancer after 12 months where as traditional surgery or radiotherapy could only offer that in half of cases.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancers affecting men in Britain with 37,000 men diagnosed each year. It claims 10,000 lives every year.

Other faulty genes have been implicated in prostate cancer including a mutation in HOXB13 which increased the risk of the disease 20 fold. It is relatively rare, occuring in less than two per cent of men with prostate cancer.

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