BRCA Basics:
Matters for Men

What is BRCA?

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Every cell in our body contains DNA. This DNA is continually being damaged by various factors.

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Fortunately, our cells have DNA repair mechanisms that help address this damage as it happens.

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BRCA genes are present in everyone's cells. These genes help repair DNA damage.1

You may have heard about BRCA genes and their relationship to breast and ovarian cancers, but research has shown a connection to other cancers as well – including prostate cancer.2

What are BRCA gene mutations and where do they come from?

When BRCA genes are mutated — or permanently changed — DNA damage in our cells can’t be repaired correctly.2

BRCA mutations can come from two sources:

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They can be inherited from either parent (called germline mutations). When they are inherited, BRCA mutations are present in every cell in the body from the beginning of a person's life.3

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They can also be acquired (called somatic mutations), developing over the course of a lifetime. Acquired BRCA mutations are only present in the tumor cells.4

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There are tests available to determine if BRCA genes in one's body or tumor are mutated.

A recent survey found: 50% of American men aged 65 and older do not know whether they have a BRCA mutation.5

Why is it important for men with prostate cancer to know if they have BRCA mutations?

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Men who have a BRCA mutation are at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer than men without a BRCA mutation.6

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Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer and also have a BRCA mutation are more likely to have an aggressive form of cancer.7

DID YOU KNOW: ~12% of men with advanced prostate cancer carry a BRCA mutation.7

What do I need to know?

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Knowing your BRCA status may help your doctor anticipate the aggressiveness of your disease and evaluate management options.

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Doctors may recommend that men living with prostate cancer take tests to identify whether they have a BRCA mutation.

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Men who have a family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer should talk with their doctor about whether genetic tests should be considered.

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A BRCA mutation may not be present when prostate cancer is diagnosed. However it can occur over time, so doctors may discuss testing at different times throughout the course of the disease.

DID YOU KNOW: Men with a mutation in their BRCA gene have 3 to 8 times increased risk of developing prostate cancer as compared to men without a BRCA gene mutation.8,9

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In the United States, prostate cancer is:

  • The second most common cancer among men, after skin cancer.10
  • The second leading cause of death from cancer in men, after lung cancer.10
  • Responsible for twice as many deaths in black men compared to any other race or ethnicity.11


  1. Abida, W, et al, Targeting DNA repair in prostate cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2018; 1017-1019
  2. Mateo J et al. DNA Repair in Prostate Cancer: Biology and Clinical Implications. Eur Urol 2017: 418- 419
  3. National Cancer Institute. Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Germline mutation. Accessed March 28, 2019.
  4. National Cancer Institute. Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Somatic mutation. Accessed March 28, 2019.
  5. Role of BRCA Gene Mutation in Inherited Cancer. U.S. Market Research Survey 2019 (n=500)
  6. Leongamornlert D, Mahmud N, Tymrakiewicz M, et al. Germline BRCA1 mutations increase prostate cancer risk. Br J Cancer. 2012;106(10):1697-1701.
  7. Castro E, Goh C, Olmos D, et al. Germline BRCA mutations are associated with higher risk of nodal involvement, distant metastasis, and poor survival outcomes in prostate cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2013;31(14):1748-1757.
  8. Leongamornlert D et al. Br J Cancer 2012; 106(10):1697-1701
  9. Kote-Jarai, British Jour Cancer. 2011;105:1230
  10. Prostate Cancer: Statistics
  11. Siegel RL, Sauer AG, et al. Cancer statistics for African Americans, 2016: progress and opportunities in reducing racial disparities. CA Cancer J Clin. 2016;66(4):290-308.