A British man had his prostate removed after testing showed he carried the BRCA2 genetic mutation, similar to the BRCA1 mutation that prompted Angelina Jolie to have a double mastectomy. Both genes greatly increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women and also raise the risk of prostate cancer in men.
The 53-year-old dad had undergone MRI scans and prostate-specific tests which showed his prostate to be healthy. But he had a history of prostate cancer in his family, so he participated in a clinical trial at London's Institute of Cancer Research which revealed he carried the BRCA2 gene. As a result, he decided to have his prostate removed.
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Although surgeons hesitated because surgery can result in life-changing side effects including sexual dysfunction and incontinence, closer examination of his prostate cells showed microscopic changes associated with cancer, so they decided to operate. Further examination of the prostate gland after surgery revealed undetected cancers.
"The relatively low level of cancerous cells we found in this man's prostate before the operation would these days not normally prompt immediate surgery to remove the gland, but given what we now know about the nature of BRCA2, it was definitely the right thing for this patient," surgeon Roger Kirby told the Sunday Times.
"This patient is now absolutely fine," Dr. Kirby said. "A number of these BRCA families have now been identified, and knowing you are a carrier is like having the sword of Damocles hanging over you. You are living in a state of constant fear. I am sure more male BRCA carriers will now follow suit."
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