Family history of breast cancer in men with non-BRCA male breast cancer: implications for cancer risk counseling

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2021 Jan;185(1):195-204. doi: 10.1007/s10549-020-05922-w. Epub 2020 Sep 11.


Purpose: The role of genetic predisposition in male breast cancer (MBC) patients who test negative for a BRCA mutation is unclear. The aim of this study is to define the association between MBC and family history of breast cancer in patients without mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2.

Methods: We conducted an unmatched case-control study with men who received commercial testing for germline mutations in cancer susceptibility genes, including 3,647 MBC cases who tested negative for deleterious mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2, and 4,269 men with a personal history of colorectal cancer who tested negative for mutations in DNA mismatch repair genes to serve as controls. Associations between family history of breast cancer and MBC were estimated using unconditional multivariable logistic regression with adjustment for age, race/ethnicity and year of testing.

Results: Breast cancer in a first- or second-degree relative was associated with a four-fold increased odds of MBC (OR 4.7; 95% CI 4.1, 5.3). Associations with MBC were strongest for family history of breast cancer in 2 or more first-degree relatives (FDR) (OR 7.8; 95% CI 5.2, 11.6), for probands and FDR diagnosed at age < 45 years (OR 6.9; 95% CI 3.9, 12.4), and for family history of MBC (OR 17.9; 95% CI 7.6, 42.1). Findings were confirmed in a sensitivity analysis of MBC cases who tested negative on a 25-gene pan-cancer panel.

Conclusions: MBC patients without mutations in BRCA1/2 have significantly higher odds of a family history of breast cancer, suggesting the existence of unidentified MBC susceptibility alleles.

Keywords: BRCA1; BRCA2; Family history; Genetics; Male breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male* / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male* / genetics
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Counseling
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation


  • BRCA2 Protein