Faulty prostate cancer-causing gene in fathers and brothers raises breast cancer risk in women, according to research. The link between the two types of cancer may be due to a faulty gene that is passed through families.
The study looked at 78,000 American women and found that women whose fathers or brothers had prostate cancer had a 14 percent higher risk of breast cancer, compared to women without a father or brother with prostate cancer.
The risk of breast cancer rose to 80 percent if their fathers or brothers had prostate cancer and their mothers had breast cancer as well.
The findings reveal that prostate cancer and breast cancer may share the same faulty gene, and although previous research has shown these cancers may run in families the new study highlights the significance of this faulty gene.
As part of their screening protocol, doctors should ask their female patients whether prostate cancer runs in their family to assess the risk of breast cancer. Having a male family member with prostate cancer may place women in the high-risk category for breast cancer, giving them opportunity for more proactive screening and preventative procedures.
Lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer said, “These findings are important in that they can be used to support an approach by clinicians to collect a complete family history of all cancers – particularly among first-degree relatives – in order to assess patient risk for developing cancer. Families with clustering of different tumors may be particularly important to study in order to discover new genetic mutations to explain this clustering.”
Dr Caitlin Barrand, senior policy manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, added, “Although we’ve known for some time that there are links between prostate cancer and breast cancer, this study suggests the link might be more important than we previously thought. If further research confirms the findings of this study, this may further improve our ability to estimate an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer, and offer personalized plans to help prevent the disease, or diagnose it early, when it can be more successfully treated. We’d recommend that women speak to their GP if they have any concerns about their family history of cancer, and advise that they should be prepared to talk about cancers on both the mother and father’s side – the GP should ask about both.”
Prostate cancer connection in women
It may seem somewhat obvious that women cannot develop prostate cancer as they do not have prostates, but women may experience prostate cancer-like symptoms as their Skene’s glands, which are located near the female G-spot, may be similar to a prostate.
Skene’s glands are responsible for producing the necessary fluid for urinary tract protection against infections and lubrication of the urethral opening. Furthermore, the structure of these glands is quite similar to the prostate.
If the Skene’s glands become affected by cancer, it is considered the female prostate cancer as women will experience very similar affects as men with prostate cancer do.
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