Crystal Phend What breastcancer.org says about this article… Male Breast CA Rare, but a Worry for Families Less than 1% of all breast cancers are diagnosed in men. Still, having a first-degree male relative who has been diagnosed with breast cancer increases a person's risk of breast cancer.
The study reviewed here found that having a male relative diagnosed with breast cancer makes family members more aware of their own increased breast cancer risk, but doesn't make them more likely to do anything about this risk.
In the large National Health Interview Survey Cancer Supplement, 2,429 people reported having a first-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer; only 21 of these first-degree relatives were male. Still, in six cases, a female first-degree relative also had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The researchers reported:
- 61.5% of women who had a male relative diagnosed with breast cancer considered their own breast cancer risk to be higher
- only 46.5% of women who had one or more female relatives diagnosed with breast cancer thought their own breast cancer risk was higher
- no one who had a male relative diagnosed with breast cancer discussed the possibility of having genetic testing with a doctor
- 13% of people who had one or more female relatives diagnosed with breast cancer talked about genetic testing with a doctor
- no one who had a male relative diagnosed with breast cancer had genetic testing compared to 3% of people who had a female relative diagnosed with breast cancer
If you have a first-degree male relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer, consider talking to your doctor about your breast cancer risk and if genetic testing is a good idea for you. Figuring out your risk -- which may include testing to see if you have an abnormal breast cancer -- is necessary to create a breast cancer screening plan that's right for you.
You can learn more on the Breastcancer.org Male Breast Cancer pages.
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(MedPage Today) -- Having a male relative with breast cancer boosts the family's perception of their own risk but doesn't help the odds that they will do something about it, analysis of national survey data showed.
Women family members were more likely to report seeing themselves as being at risk than those who had a female relative with breast cancer (61.5% versus 46.5%, P=0.011), according to Suzanne C. Schiffman, MD, and Anees B. Chagpar, MD, MSc, both of the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky.
However, no one with male breast cancer in the family said they had discussed genetic testing with their physician whereas 13% of those with an affected female relative did (P=0.004), the researchers reported in the August issue of the American Surgeon.
Likewise, family history of male breast cancer didn't prompt any relatives to get tested for genetic risk factors, whereas 3% of those with a mother, sister, or daughter who had the disease got tested for BRCA mutations (P=0.009).
Yet, Schiffman and Chagpar noted, a family in which male breast cancer has occurred has a 60% to 76% chance of BRCA2 mutation, which accounts for up to 40% of male breast cancers. So, they said, women should be concerned about this hereditary risk in the family.
"Physicians should be proactive in discussing risk with these patients," they recommended in the paper.
Women may need extra prompting, especially in knowing to report male relatives with breast cancer, Schiffman added in an interview.
"People aren't sure what they need to be telling their physician, what in their family history is important," she told MedPage Today. "That falls on the physician to really ferret out a good family history."
Guidelines recommend starting surveillance screening at an earlier age and considering genetic testing and counseling for patients with high-risk family history of breast cancer, including having a first-degree male relative with the disease.
Prior studies have suggested that no single reason why high-risk women fail to get screening or counseling.
Women may make an informed decision not to undergo more aggressive strategies even when physicians do properly refer for it, Schiffman and Chapgar noted.
To reach their conclusions, the researchers analyzed data from the population-based 2005 National Health Interview Survey Cancer Supplement, conducted by the CDC for the National Center for Health Statistics.
The analysis included 2,429 individuals (57.3% women) who had a parent, sibling, or child with breast cancer.
Just 21 individuals (0.9%) reported male breast cancer in the family, one male relative in each case. But six of these respondents (28.6%) also had a sister, mother, or daughter with breast cancer.
Another 122 individuals reported two first-degree female relatives with the disease.
Individuals with a family history of male breast cancer were somewhat less likely to have heard about genetic testing than those with a female relative with breast cancer, but the difference was not statistically significant (38.4% versus 50.8%, P=0.322).
The researchers cautioned that their study may have been limited by requiring a Yes or No answer to the questions about perceived genetic risk and testing.
Schiffman added that the small number of male breast cancer cases reported by respondents matched its national prevalence fairly well.
The study was funded by the University of Louisville's Department of Surgery.
Schiffman reported having no financial conflicts of interest to disclose.
Primary source: The American Surgeon Source reference: Schiffman SC, Chagpar AB "Does a family history of male breast cancer influence risk perception and use of genetic testing?" Am Surg 2010; 76.