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by Amber Smith   |   October 28, 2019

What Men Should Know About the BRCA Gene

A recent “ZERO Live” on Facebook focused on the tie between the BRCA gene and prostate cancer. ZERO’s President and CEO Jamie Bearse met with Greater Boston Urology’s CEO Dr. Michael Curran to discuss that connection. 

Dr. Curran began by explaining that BRCA genes are present in everyone’s cells and they help repair DNA damage. When BRCA genes are mutated or permanently changed, DNA damage in our cells can’t be repaired correctly.

“It’s essential to have these repair genes,” states Dr. Curran. “As wear and tear on the body occurs, we can genetically repair those areas of overuse, or even mutation, and get them back to the normal way in which the cells in the body should be functioning.”

5 Things Men Should Know About BRCA Mutations

  1. Men with an inherited BRCA gene can develop prostate cancer, typically at a younger age, and have a higher mortality rate
  2. Men who have a BRCA mutation have 3-8 times increased risk for developing prostate cancer than men without the BRCA mutation. Men who have a family history of prostate cancer should talk with their doctor about whether genetic tests should be considered. Dr. Curran suggests,  “It’s never a bad idea to know your genetic composition.”
  3. Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer and also have a BRCA mutation are more likely to have an aggressive form of cancer. Knowing your BRCA status may help your doctor anticipate the aggressiveness of your disease and evaluate treatment and management options. Dr. Curran shared, “Men with BRCA gene mutations have higher grades of cancer and it is more likely to spread.” 
  4. A BRCA gene mutation may not be present when prostate cancer is first diagnosed, however can occur over time. Doctors may discuss genetic testing at different times throughout the course of the disease for instance, “If we are seeing someone’s clinical course deviate, such as a PSA rising or the cancer has metastasized, there could have been a change in their BRCA gene,” shared Dr. Curran. “In that case, it would be a good idea to re-test or test a patient anew, to know what their genetic status is.”
  5. Men should get tested to learn more about their genetic composition and BRCA status. Knowing your status can prevent misleading management options if diagnosed with prostate cancer and will let you know if you are at a higher risk of an aggressive form of cancer if diagnosed. Dr. Curran shares, “Genetic testing is very new and exciting, and has an important role in maintaining our overall health, so it’s always good to have these conversations with your doctor.” 

Watch ZERO’s October 4th Facebook LIVE with Jamie Bearse and Dr. Curran.

For more information about the connection between prostate cancer and BRCA gene mutations, you can also visit: www.BRCAblue.com