Gene ups male risk of breast cancer
Scientists conducting the world's largest study of male breast cancer have identified a gene that raises the risk of developing the disease by half.
Findings from the new research suggest the causes of the disease differ between women and men.
Around 350 men in the UK are diagnosed with the disease each year, compared with 48,000 women.
It was already known that faulty BRCA2 genes are involved in around 10pc of cases, a much higher proportion than among women.
Changes in the RAD51B gene, which is involved in the repair of damaged DNA, also play a role, according to the new research.
They increase the risk of male breast cancer by up to 50pc.
Dr Nick Orr, from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: "This study represents a leap forward in our understanding of male breast cancer.
"It shows that while there are similarities with female breast cancer, the causes of the disease can work differently in men.
"This raises the possibility of different ways to treat the disease specifically for men."
An international team of scientists screened the genetic code of 823 male breast cancer patients and investigated 447,000 alterations in their DNA.