Genetic testing – it’s the latest must-do for women. Having it will determine if you have the genes that increase your risk of breast cancer. If you do, you’ll be able to take even more precautions when creating a prevention plan, devoting a considerable amount of time and energy to self-exams, mammograms and a healthy lifestyle. The test is recommended for women with a family history of breast cancer, but they aren’t the only ones who should have it done. Men should, too.
Breast cancer, while more prevalent in women, affects a growing number of men each year. Approximately 2,030 new cases develop annually and many end fatally. Most men don’t consider themselves to be “at risk”, especially if they don’t have the dreaded man boobs, but they are. Men, like women, have breast cells and so are susceptible to the deadly disease. Obesity, age, liver disease, alcohol consumption, estrogen treatment and radiation exposure increase the risk, as do family history and genetics – two things, when it comes to breast cancer, nearly all men disregard.
In a survey of 24 men whose female relatives had been found to have the breast cancer-linked genes, only five knew that that risk transferred over to them. The others assumed that since the disease was a “woman’s cancer”, only women could have the genes or the genes only affected women. They were oblivious to their risk, completely in the dark about a possibility that could be up to seven times greater than thought. And that’s only for breast cancer. If the genes are there, the chances of developing pancreatic or prostate cancer are heightened, as well.
If you are a man with a family history of breast cancer or have relatives who have tested positive after genetic analyses, consider getting tested yourself. Knowing that you have the genes won’t prevent the disease on its own, but it will help.