07/17/2014 11:25 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Doctor Explains How Men Can Develop Breast Cancer

Men may not realize it, but they can get breast cancer, too.

In a HuffPost Live conversation on Wednesday, Dr. Mark David Pearlman explained that because both men and women can inherit mutations in certain genes, both sexes can be diagnosed with breast cancer.

“BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can be acquired equally for men and women," he explained. "They’re what we call autosomal genes, meaning we all have them."

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes act to suppress tumors. Since these genes produce protein to prevent cells from growing and dividing too quickly, mutations in the genes can be harmful. People with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations are often at risk for prostate cancer and breast cancer. Still, Pearlman added a word of caution for those who test negative for these genes.

“It’s important to know if a gene mutation exists in your family, but if it doesn’t, you cannot ignore your family history,” the doctor said. “You can still calculate breast cancer risk, lifetime risk, even if you test gene-negative, just based on your family history alone.”

Perlman advises that those who have a strong family history of such gene mutations have tests conducted more frequently and at a younger age so as to catch any possibility of cancer much earlier.

Watch the rest of the HuffPost Live conversation on breast cancer below:



11 Little Known Breast Cancer Facts