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Male breast cancer in family leads to high perception of risk, low likelihood of genetic counseling
Date:7/29/2010

and senior author Anees Chagpar, MD, director of the Multidisciplinary Breast Care Program at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, found that more than 60 percent of those with a first-degree relative with male breast cancer perceived themselves as being at higher risk of developing the disease, while only 46 percent of those with a female first-degree relative did. However, only 38.4 percent of those with a relative with male breast cancer had heard of genetic testing, compared to more than 50 percent of those with a female relative with breast cancer. And of those who had heard about it, none of the individuals with a male relative had discussed their genetic risk with their physician, compared to 13 percent of those with a female relative with breast cancer.

"Our findings speak to a real communication issue in health care," Chagpar said. "Patients need to be made aware of the risk posed by having one or more first-degree relatives who have had breast cancer, and physicians need to be meticulous in taking family histories and discussing risk with the patients they see."

The discovery of the BRCA mutations and their connection to the development of breast cancer was an important milestone in cancer research as women and men who inherit these mutated genes are at significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer; women with a BRCA mutation have up to an 87 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer compared with the 12 percent lifetime risk of the general population. One of the BRCA mutations BRCA2 is present in approximately 4 to 40 percent of male breast cancers.

The likelihood of a BRCA mutation increases with certain familial patterns of cancer incidence, including two first-degree relatives with female breast cancer with one diagnosed before she was 50, or one first-degree relative with male breast cancer, Schiffman said. It is important that patients and their doctors are looking for these patterns, she said.


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Contact: Lauren Williams
lauren.williams@louisville.edu
502-852-7461
University of Louisville
Source:Eurekalert

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