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Men with faulty BRCA2 gene have 'almost double the prostate cancer risk'

The BRCA2 gene is usually associated with breast or ovarian cancer, but has now been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer [Photo: Getty]

Men carrying the faulty gene BRCA2 are at almost double the risk of prostate cancer, new research has suggested.

The BRCA2 gene fault is usually associated with breast and ovarian cancer in women.

Those carrying it have a 50% to 85% risk of developing breast cancer by the time they reach 70.

But a new study found those with the faulty gene have a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer and their tumours tend to be more aggressive than those without the gene.

Men and women can pass down mutations in the BRCA genes and men may become aware they have a faulty gene if there is a history of breast cancer in the family.

The faulty gene became more well-known when actress Angelina Jolie revealed she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy after discovering she had inherited the BRCA1 mutation.

BRCA2 does a similar job to BRCA1 and has around 800 mutations. Many of these mutations have been linked to cancer.

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Previous studies have revealed that the standard test for prostate cancer (prostate-specific antigen or PSA) would not work for screening for the general population because it is not reliable enough.

However, the latest study found PSA tests were more likely to pick out more serious forms of prostate cancer in men who carry the BRCA2 gene fault than in non-carriers, which means these men could benefit from regular PSA testing.

Men the the faulty gene were found to have double the risk of prostate cancer [Photo: Getty]

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The research published in European Urology and led by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, looked at around 1,400 men and compared those who do not carry the BRCA2 gene fault with those who do.

All men were offered a yearly PSA test for three years and those with elevated PSA reading were offered a biopsy to confirm whether they had cancer.

The researchers found that men who carry the BRCA2 gene fault were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than non-carriers.

They also found that carriers were diagnosed at a younger age – an average of 61 compared with 64 in non-carriers.

Furthermore, men with the BRCA2 gene fault were diagnosed with more serious tumours – with 77% of men having clinically significant disease compared with 40% of non-carriers.

Commenting on the findings study leader Rosalind Eeles, professor of oncogenetics at the Institute of Cancer Research, said: "For women who undergo genetic testing, options are available to them if they carry a BRCA fault, including preventative surgery and increased screening.

"But there's no prevention pathway in place if men decide to find out if they're a carrier, which is why our research is so important.”

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Back in June scientists revealed that men could soon be offered a new one-off prostate cancer test that could detect whether they are likely to develop a dangerous form of the disease.

Experts say men could be offered one scan between the age of 55 and 60 and be given “peace of mind” for the rest of their life.

The 10-minute scan, which could be potentially rolled out in supermarkets and shopping centres, detects dangerous cancers years before they cause any harm while ignoring growths that don’t pose a threat.

According to Prostate Cancer UK, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and it’s estimated that by 2030, prostate cancer will be the most commonly diagnosed cancer overall.

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, but this figure rises to one in four for black men.

More than 11,500 men die from prostate cancer in the UK each year – that's one man every 45 minutes.