(02/14/14) - It may be the last test a man may ever think of getting, but a test for the breast cancer gene could save a lot of men's lives. Screening for a BRCA gene mutation is something a lot of women with family histories of breast cancer opt to do. But, it is an option men who've had close relatives with breast cancer may want to consider, too. While it is called the breast cancer gene, that is not the only risk it carries- for men or women.
A year ago, Josh Newby quit his successful job at a dot-com company to care for his mom, Theresa, "it's the greatest decision I ever made."
Theresa had stage-four breast cancer, and was in hospice until she passed away. When she was diagnosed, she tested positive for a BRCA gene mutation. She wanted Josh to get the blood test too.
He says his result was also positive, "I thought, wow, I have this gene. I got to take my life a little more seriously probably."
Genetic counselor Khateriaa Pyrtel says many don't realize men can pass the faulty gene to their daughters and women can pass it on to their sons.
"I do find that it's often like they're not even thinking about the men in the families. We get the same information from our mothers that we do from our fathers in terms of our genes," Pyrtel says.
Men and women with a BRCA mutation have a 50 percent chance of passing it on. Women with the mutation are up to seven times more likely to develop breast cancer, and at least 10 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer. The risk is much lower for men. Each year, 2,240 men are diagnosed with breast cancers are diagnosed. Still, men with the mutation are at a higher risk for other types of cancer, including prostate, stomach, pancreatic cancer and melanoma.
Geneticists say men should consider testing if they have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
Josh is glad he did, "I do hope to have children someday, and that's very powerful information to have."
He is making early cancer screenings a priority. He also started a foundation to raise money for cancer research. He wants to give others the chance his mom didn't have.
"She's just the most amazing person in the world," he says.
To learn more about Josh's Theresa Foundation for Metastatic Breast Cancer visit metastaticfoundation.org
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