What About The Men? Time For Us To " Man Up"

For a woman being diagnosed with a BRCA2 gene mutation, there is a ton of information specific to cancers for women, but what if you are a man? The amount regarding male breast cancer, hereditary prostate cancer, and hereditary pancreatic cancer is limited. In addition, public awareness about these conditions is limited. Considering that half the people carrying a BRCA1/2 mutation are men, this needs to change. However, this website is a great resource for men affected by hereditary cancer and more resources will be added soon that are geared specifically for men.

Men can be sensitive when it comes to discussing their prostate health. Talking about male breast cancer can also be an awkward topic for men. But it is so important to change this conversation. When you provide your family medical history for cancer before you have genetic testing, it can be misleading if the breast, prostate, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers that men have are not included. When you hear “BRCA1/2” most people think women with breast and ovarian cancer, but don’t realize how important men with cancer are in these family histories. If just one of these cancers is missed in the family medical history, it can make the difference with getting the right genetic testing. Worst-case, if no genetic testing is deemed medically necessary for that family because of inaccurate information that was given about the medical history, it could cost someone their life.

Genetic testing isn’t just important for women. Besides learning about their cancer risks, male family members should consider genetic testing so they can see if they have passed a familial gene mutation to their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. What if the male family member with a mutation is not yet married? This would be a very important medical condition that should be shared with any future partner so it can be discussed. Sometimes people don’t feel that way. This goes for women and men, where their fear of the results overpowers their need for the truth. But it’s important to consider everyone in the situation, which needs to be balanced with their own fears and worries.

I understand that prostate cancer and male breast cancers are a touchy subject for men, but this a call to spring them and their loved ones into action! The minute someone in the family is diagnosed with cancer, then everyone suddenly pays attention. Then people are more willing to be tested. So why not before? Why not be proactive? 

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