A British businessman has made medical history by having his healthy prostate removed after testing positive for a “faulty” gene that increases his risk of developing cancer.
The 53-year-old Londoner, who had family members who suffered breast or prostate cancer, found out he had the BRCA 2 gene after taking part in a trial at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).
Earlier this week, Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she’d had a double mastectomy after discovering she carried the BRCA 1 gene.
Doctors had estimated that the mother-of-six had an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer and a 50 per cent risk of ovarian cancer.
Surgeons would normally advise against removing a healthy man’s prostate, as aside from leaving the man infertile it can result in incontinence. But after a tissue sample showed microscopic malignant changes, they pressed ahead with the historic operation.
Surgeon Roger Kirby told the Sunday Times that the presence of the BRCA 2 gene justified removing the prostate in this 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,” he said.
Mr Kirby added that the patient is now “absolutely fine”, adding: “I am sure more male BRCA carriers will now follow suit.”
Results from ICR trials on almost 2,000 men showed that men who carry the BRCA 2 gene are at 8.6 times greater risk of developing prostate cancer than non-carriers.
Prostate cancer affects one in eight men in the UK, with 10,000 deaths each year.