The Relationship Between Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer

[00:00:00] Adam Walker: This podcast is brought to you by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson. When it comes to cancer, Janssen Oncology is inspired by our passion and belief in our mission to reimagine care, redefine living to help patients live longer, better lives.

From Susan G Komen, this is Real Pink, a podcast exploring real stories, struggles, and triumphs related to breast cancer. We’re taking the conversation from the doctor’s office to your living room.

Women are often the gatekeepers of the family’s health and the ones responsible for ensuring their family members stay on top of health information and screenings. Because of this, it can be helpful for them to understand that certain inherited gene mutations may increase the risk of breast cancer in both women and men in their family. These inherited gene mutations may also increase the risk of other cancers such as ovarian cancer (in women) and prostate cancer (in men). Therefore, it is important for family members with inherited gene mutations to share their test results with both men and women in their families, since they all may benefit from talking to their doctors about how these mutations impact their risk for breast, prostate and other cancers as well as exploring options for genetic counseling and testing. Here today to help us specifically understand the relationship between breast cancer and prostate cancer is medical oncologist, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director for the Program for Breast Cancer in Men at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Jose Pablo Leone. Dr. Leone, welcome to the show!

[00:01:37] Dr. Jose Leone: Thank you very much. Mr. Walker. Thank you for having me.

[00:01:40] Adam Walker: I’m really excited to talk to you about this. This is such an important topic and I don’t it, we haven’t really talked about it much on this show. So let’s start with the big picture, because this is likely the first time that many of our listeners are hearing about this specific topic. Can you explain the link between breast cancer and prostate cancer?

[00:01:58] Dr. Jose Leone: Yeah. So there are there is a genetic link between both diseases between breast cancer and prostate cancer. And it has to do with some of the common mutations, uh, genetic mutations that, that we see in patients specifically B RCA one and B RCA two are among the most common mutations that are associated with the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and also with the risk of prostate cancer.

So those mutations are, uh, the same on the same gene, uh, B RCA one or B RCA, a two and specifically B R C a two being a bit more common for the risk of prostate cancer in. So patients who have these mutations can have somewhere between two times to eight times higher risk of developing, uh, prostate cancer.

Uh, and that risk is also increased for breast cancer as well in women and in men, there are also other genes that have been found to increase the risk of prostate cancer that are shared with the risk of breast cancer. So these are ATM check. And probably two, which are genes that are less often identified as new data.

Uh, they’re less often, uh, seen nonetheless they do carry a risk for both diseases.

[00:03:11] Adam Walker: Okay. So what information should women with a known inherited genetic mutations share with their families, including the men? And why is it so important that they share that information?

[00:03:23] Dr. Jose Leone: So I think it is very important that men, that women who know that have a inherited genetic mutation share that information with their family, because these mutations, many of these are inherited through the in percent.

And so patients who have a mutation may have other fam other members of their family who also have the same alteration, the same. And it is important for those individuals in those families to know about this, to discuss it with their doctors, to make sure that they’re having the right screening for the types of cancer that we’re considering they have higher risk.

Also getting informed about how much higher is their risk of developing those specific types of cancer, and also discuss about whether they would like to have, uh, genetic counseling or genetic.

[00:04:18] Adam Walker: Okay. And so when I think of genetic testing I almost always think of women in breast cancer testing. And so, in your experience, how do men typically feel about asking for genetic testing? And is this something that they or their families would benefit from?

[00:04:34] Dr. Jose Leone: Yeah. So my experience may or may not be, uh, similar to other people’s experience, but I’ll tell you, you know, because I see men who have already a diagnosis of breast cancer and. In my experience. When I talk with men who have a new diagnosis of breast cancer in general, they’re very interested in knowing what would, what could have caused the breast cancer to develop.

And so when we discuss about the risk factors and we discuss about the possibility of a genetic alteration in general, at least in my experience, men tend to be interested in going ahead with genetic testing to try to find out if that may have played a role. Not only for themselves, but also included their family members as well.

So in general, I think uh, patients are very receptive from my experience.

[00:05:24] Adam Walker: Okay. Okay. That’s great. So, because you deal with men and men related to breast cancer I’m curious to ask this, uh, how can a family member or close friend support them in their lives that are going through this kinda experience?

[00:05:39] Dr. Jose Leone: Yeah. So I think there are there many opportunities for support in friends and family members to patients. One issue is to support them, make the appointments, to get the care they need, and also to support them not to be scared about what they’re facing. They can also help address many of the needs about screening and also to acknowledge and validate that there are, there is indeed an emotional element to this.

For example, I. A number of patients who come to every appointment with their wives and their wives are very involved in asking questions, helping to make treatment decisions and treatment recommendations that they think is in line with what their husbands would like to do also to offer support to them.

In fact, they come to many of the visits for treatments and they stay with them. So I think it, it becomes very helpful for patients. And in fact, we do know. Scientifically that patients who have support at home. And this is true, both for women and men do better than those who don’t have support at home.

So it is a very important thing. And that, that can come in the form of either a family member or a close friend.

[00:06:51] Adam Walker: Yeah, that is, I mean, that, that support, we talked about this so many times that community, that connection is just so important. So important. Yeah. So if people listening to the show, if our listeners want to speak to their healthcare provider about genetic testing. What questions should they ask and what supporting tools, if any, should they be bringing to that conversation?

[00:07:13] Dr. Jose Leone: Yeah, so I think the first thing is that any question that they want to ask I think is fair game and they should, uh, feel encouraged to ask those questions.

It’s in my view, it’s absolutely normal to have questions about genetic testing. It’s a topic that is not necessarily self-explaining or self intuitive and it can be very confusing. And so I think it’s very important that if patients have questions about this, they should bring it in terms of support.

 I think bringing a family member or close friend will be helpful as we were mentioning as well earlier. You know, oftentimes that’s regarding treatment also, but even in the, in discussions about genetic testing and genetic counseling, I think it can be helpful as well to count with the support of their families.

[00:07:59] Adam Walker: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so important. So what if someone is interested in genetic testing, but they’re concerned about the financial aspects of genetic testing or what their out of pocket costs might be. Do you have any. Where they can find additional resources or support or information about that?

[00:08:18] Dr. Jose Leone: I think it is important to not let finances deter patients from curing genetic testing. When genetic testing is indicated, it’s important to for patients and people in the community to know that there are resources out there available that their doctors may have resources to help with this costs and that there is also the common helpline that can connect people with information as well.

[00:08:43] Adam Walker: Yeah Yeah. It’s so important. I mean, there’s, there, there’s lots of resources on the common website and of course the helpline. So, uh, as a final call to action, uh, if our listeners are aware of someone in their family, it either has breast cancer or prostate cancer, what do you recommend is the next step that they should take? And what should they be?

[00:09:05] Dr. Jose Leone: So I think they should discuss this with their PCPs or whoever. The main healthcare provider is their family doctor, their primary doctor make sure undergo the training for either breast or ovarian cancer, whichever may that video in family, uh, it is also important and it’s a good opportunity to review whether genetic counseling and or testing maybe appropriate to them. So they should discuss about this with their PCPs.

[00:09:40] Adam Walker: Dr. Leone, I mean, this is fascinating. I never ever considered the connection between prostate cancer and breast cancer. And you sort of walking us through how it’s connected to that same. BRCA one and two gene mutation is really fascinating and kind of enlightening. Do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to share with any of our listeners related to this topic?

[00:10:02] Dr. Jose Leone: I think it’s very helpful and I thank you for doing this podcast. I think it’s very helpful for people in sharing the community to be aware of these things, of these links of why it is important to discuss about these issue. If someone is diagnosed with either breast or prostate cancer and how to discuss it within the family, as well as with our primary care physicians. So I appreciate you bringing this up because, uh I’m hoping it will help a lot of people at home.

[00:10:29] Adam Walker: So am I Soma that’s certainly why we do this well. Dr. Leone, thank you for the work that you’re doing to help people. And thank you for joining me on the show today.

[00:10:38] Dr. Jose Leone: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me it’s a pleasure.

[00:13:37] Adam Walker: Thank you to Janssen Oncology for supporting the Real Pink Podcast. For more information about the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson, please visit their website at To learn more about prostate cancer, including the statistics for its effect on black men, and to find the resources you need to talk to your doctor or support your loved one to stay on top of prostate help, visit

Thanks for listening to Real Pink, a weekly podcast by Susan G Komen. For more episodes, visit For more on breast cancer, visit Make sure to check out at Susan G Komen on social media. I’m your host, Adam, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog,