The Prostate Cancer-Breast Cancer Link

Research has shown that there may be a link between prostate cancer and breast cancer. A family history of breast cancer is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Certain genetic mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer may result in an increased risk of prostate cancer in men. And there are also similar biological processes that can contribute to the development of both of these types of cancers.

However, breast cancer and prostate cancer are among the most common types of cancers, and they are not always associated with a family history or with recognized genetic mutations. Furthermore, there are treatments for these types of cancer, and they are more effective when they are initiated at an early stage. So it is important that you have your recommended health screenings even if you don't have any known risk factors.

prostate cancer causes and risk factors
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Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer

Men who have a personal history of breast cancer or a family history of breast cancer may be at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer. While the exact reasons for this link are not completely clear, both types of cancer are associated with inflammation and with similar processes of carcinogenesis (cancer cell development).

BRCA Genes

Mutations in two genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer in women and men, and with a higher risk of ovarian cancer in women. These gene mutations are often inherited and run in families, but they can also develop de novo (without an inherited pattern).

Men who have these genetic mutations are at an increased risk of prostate cancer as well as pancreatic cancer.

Mutations of both genes have been shown to be associated with a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, and evidence suggests that mutations in BRCA2 are more strongly correlated with prostate cancer risk.

Prostate Cancer Testing

All men with metastatic prostate cancer should be tested for the BRCA genes. However, having these mutations does not mean that a man will definitely develop prostate cancer. Additionally, most men who develop prostate cancer do not have BRCA mutations.

If a mutation is found, it could affect the age at which initial screening is recommended.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pilarski R. The role of testing in hereditary pancreatic and prostate cancer families. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2019;39:79-86. doi:10.1200/EDBK_238977

  2. NIH National Cancer Institute. Common cancer types.

  3. Barber L, Gerke T, Markt SC, et al. Family history of breast or prostate cancer and prostate cancer risk. Clin Cancer Res. 2018;24(23):5910-5917. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-0370

  4. Petrucelli N, Daly MB, Pal T. BRCA1- and BRCA2-associated hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. In: Adam MP, Ardinger HH, Pagon RA, et al., editors. GeneReviews.

  5. Friedenson B. BRCA1 and BRCA2 pathways and the risk of cancers other than breast or ovarianMedGenMed. 2005;7(2):60.

By Matthew Schmitz, MD
Matthew Schmitz, MD, is a professional radiologist who has worked extensively with prostate cancer patients and their families.