Angelina Jolie revealed last week that she had had a double masectomy when tests revealed the presence of genes associated with breat cancer
A 53-year-old British father has become the first man to have his prostate removed because tests revealed he was carrying a "faulty" cancer gene.
A clinical trial at London's Institute of Cancer Research revealed that he carried the BRCA2 gene, which research shows is associated with a high risk of developing prostate cancer.
Several of the man's family had suffered from breast or prostate cancer, which is why he took part in the study.
The closely associated BRCA1 gene has been known for some time to have links with breast cancer, and last week actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she had undergone a double mastectomy when tests revealed that she carried the gene.
After receiving the news the man asked doctors to remove his prostate, which tests had shown to be healthy.
Surgeons were initially reluctant, since the potential side effects of the operation include infertility, incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
MRI scans and a prostate-specific antigen, or PSA tests, did not show the presence of malignant cells, but microscopic examination revealed cell changes associated with cancer, prompting the surgeons to act.
Surgeon Roger Kirby told the Sunday Times: "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 now know about the nature of BRCA2, it was definitely the right thing for this patient."
After the gland was removed, tests revealed previously undetected cancers.
"This patient is now absolutely fine. A number of these BRCA families have now been identified, and knowing you are a carrier is like having the sword of Damocles hanging over you. You are living in a state of constant fear. I am sure more male BRCA carriers will now follow suit."
Doctors believe that other men who know they carry the rogue gene may now opt for a similar procedure.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of male cancer in the UK. It affects about one in eight men, and kills approximately 10,000 each year.
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