Scientists identify gene mutation that ups risk of breast cancer in men

Hormonal therapy and alcohol consumption also have an impact, says study

Updated - December 02, 2016 12:30 pm IST

Published - October 30, 2016 10:41 pm IST - KOLKATA

:Researchers of the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) and the University of Calcutta, Department of Anthropology, have found that changes in a particular gene, called the BRCA2 gene, can increase the risk of breast cancer in men.

A two-year study, which ended earlier this year, identified certain ‘novel mutations’ in the BRCA2 gene (BRCA refers to breast cancer), which makes men more susceptible to the disease.

While there are a lot of studies on the BRCA1, BRCA2 and other inherited gene mutations resulting in female breast cancer, this is the first study on male breast cancer from this part of the country. Scientists collected samples of blood and tissue from several patients diagnosed with male breast cancer.

This was followed by DNA sequencing by which gene expression and novel mutations that could be responsible for the disease were identified.

“If these mutations, which we came across the during our study, are found among normal healthy males, the person is at risk of having the disease any time during his life,” Abhishikta Ghosh Roy, research scholar with AnSI told The Hindu . The mutations have been reported to the world gene bank database.

Smaller lumps

Since breast cancer primaries (lumps) in men tend to be smaller than in women, diagnostic delays are caused. Moreover, since the BRCA2 mutation carriers are found in lymph nodes, men do not feel the pain that would urge them to seek medical intervention, she added.

Along with Ms. Ghosh Roy, anthropologist B.N. Sarkar of AnSI and Professor A.R. Bandyopadhyay have been associated with the research, which has come out with significant revelations. Not only genetic factors, the study found, but lifestyle and reproductive factors trigger risks for the disease in men. This includes hormonal therapy and alcohol consumption.

While the study was conducted primarily among Bengali Hindu men, researchers are now keen to study other populations across the country.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. As per figures released by the National Cancer Registry Data till 2013, breast cancer amounts to 25.4 per cent of all the cancers across the country.

Compared to this, male breast cancer is relatively rare, accounting for less than one per cent of all breast cancers and one per cent of all cancers reported among men.

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