Study links another gene variant to male breast cancer

September 23, 2012 by Randy Dotinga, Healthday Reporter
Study links another gene variant to male breast cancer
Finding offers insight into causes of disease that kills several hundred men in US each year.

(HealthDay)—Researchers report that they've identified another genetic variation that appears connected to male breast cancer, a rare condition that kills several hundred men in the United States each year.

The finding won't immediately lead to any improvements in treatment for the disease. Still, "by finding more male , we can understand more about the biology of the disease and, as a result, get a better understanding of how best to treat ," said study author Dr. Nick Orr, a team leader at the Institute of in London. "We hope these findings will also help us to learn more about how the disease works in women, too."

Male breast cancer is about 100 times less common than female breast cancer, according to the . It estimates that this year breast cancer will be diagnosed in about 2,190 men in the United States and will kill about 410 men.

The prognosis for men with breast cancer is similar to that for women with breast cancer, although less is known about the disease in men. A study released last year also found that men are diagnosed on average at an older age (70) than women (62).

"We've made a lot of progress in finding causes of breast cancer in women over the past couple of decades," Orr explained. "But we know very little about what causes the disease in men."

In the new study, researchers examined the DNA of 823 men with breast cancer and 2,795 similar men without the disease. They then attempted to validate their results by looking at the genes of 438 men with the disease and 474 similar men without it.

Orr said his team found that a variation in a gene known as RAD51B was found in 20 percent of the men with breast cancer, but only 15 percent of those without it. The variation has also been linked to female breast cancer.

The findings add to previous research that has linked in a gene known as to a higher rate of breast cancer in men. Mutations in the gene greatly boost the risk of breast cancer in women.

For now, the findings are useful in terms of understanding the disease, said Dr. Mikael Hartman, an assistant professor at National University of Singapore. "The ultimate goal is prevention, but that is a long way ahead. Thus, any preventive treatment will have to wait."

While it's helpful to know which genes are connected to the disease, he said, "the ability of these markers to predict is so far only marginally better than flipping a coin. When hopefully hundreds of these markers are identified, we could consider making predictions based on an individual's genetic makeup."

The study is published online Sept. 23 in the journal Nature Genetics.

Explore further: Researchers call for more awareness of male breast cancer as cases rise

More information: For more about male breast cancer, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Paper: DOI: 10.1038/ng.2417

Related Stories

Researchers call for more awareness of male breast cancer as cases rise

October 3, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Awareness of male breast cancer is low and most men do not even know they are at risk despite an increase in cases, reveals new research from the University of Leeds.

PSA test for men could get a second life for breast cancer in women

July 13, 2011
The widely known PSA blood test for prostate cancer in men may get a second life as a much-needed new test for breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in women worldwide, scientists are reporting in a new study in the ...

Breast cancer type linked to paternal cancer

November 28, 2011
The risk of breast cancer is increased by genetic and lifestyle factors such as the inherited BRCA2 gene, age of having first child, or use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). New research published in BioMed Central's ...

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.