Conditions

After Angelina: Englishman Tests Positive For BRCA2 During Trial Screen, Has Healthy Prostate Removed

Angelina Jolie, Comic Con
Wanting to avoid an early death, a Londoner, who tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, underwent historic surgery. Gage Skidmore, Creative Common

A 53-year-old father, who tested positive for BRCA2 gene, has made medical history by having his healthy prostate removed, the Daily Mail reported.

After taking part in a trial at the Institute of Cancer Research, the London businessman, whose name has not been revealed, learned he had the BRCA2 gene, which increases his risk of developing cancer. Family members had previously died from both breast and prostate cancer.

It is believed there were no signs to suggest the man's prostate was unhealthy. His surgeons discovered a number of previously undetected BRCA cells while operating.

 

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer forms in tissues of the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Possible symptoms of prostate cancer include a weak flow of urine or frequent urination. Other signs may include pain or burning during urination, blood in the urine or semen, a pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, and painful ejaculation.

Although doctors were initially reluctant to perform the operation, as removal of the prostate leaves men infertile and may also result in incontinence, surgeon Roger Kirby told reporters that the presence of the BRCA2 gene justified removing the prostate in this particular man's case.

"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 do know about the nature of BRCA2, it was definitely the right thing to do for this patient," Kirby said.

 

Angelina and BRCA Genes

Earlier this week, 37-year-old Angelina Jolie wrote about having a double mastectomy after discovering she carried the BRCA1 gene. In an op-ed piece titled My Medical Choice, she stated, "My doctors estimated that I had an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman." Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, had died of ovarian cancer at 56. Following her double mastectomy, Jolie's risk of contracting breast cancer dropped to under five percent.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are known to be linked to an aggressive form of breast cancer. The names BRCA1 and BRCA2 stand for breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 and breast cancer susceptibility gene 2, respectively. Men with BRCA1 mutations also have an increased risk of breast cancer and, possibly, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer, and early-onset prostate cancer. However, these cancers appear to be more strongly associated with a BRCA2 gene mutation in men.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that, in 2013, the number of new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. will total 238,590, while the number of deaths will be 29,720. Common treatment options include radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and surgery.

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