Genetics and Male Breast Cancer

Updated 
October 24, 2016
Reviewed By: 
William F. Anderson, MD, MPH;  
Sharon H. Giordano, MD, MPH;  

About 10 percent of men diagnosed with breast cancer have a breast cancer-related geneticinfo-icon mutationinfo-icon, most commonly in the BRCA1info-icon or BRCA2info-icon geneinfo-icon. Everyone has the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. But errors in the gene, called mutations, are linked to hereditary breast cancer.

In the general population, only a small percentage of all diagnosed breast cancers are related to gene mutations.

About 5 to10 percent of all men in the general population with the BRCA2 mutation and up to 5 percent with the BRCA1 mutation will eventually be diagnosed with breast cancer. Rates of risk are significantly higher among women with these mutations.

Genetic counseling is recommended for all men with breast cancer, and is particularly important for those with children, especially daughters. Men who test positive for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation should encourage their children and siblings to consider genetic counselinginfo-icon and testing.

There are important factors that need to be weighed if you or any of your children test positive for BRCA1, BRCA2 or another gene mutation that has been linked to breast or ovarian cancerinfo-icon.