BRCA Study: Clinic Is Saving Men’s Lives in Israel

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Uriya, age 49, visits Israel’s Rabin Medical Center for a cancer screening. On the surface, he shows no signs of disease.

However, results from a study by David Margel, MD, PhD, revealed Uriya is living with prostate cancer at an early yet curable stage. Uriya carries the BRCA gene.

Rabin Medical Center—founded and led by Dr. -Margel—is dedicated to caring for male BRCA carriers.

BRCA in Men

While the effects on women are well known, the risks that mutations in BRCA genes have on men are often overlooked. Male carriers face a heightened risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer at an early age.

“Even within the BRCA community, men are treated as ‘carrying vectors’ rather than subjects who need care. Before coming to our clinic, Uriya constantly feared he would succumb to cancer similar to his father and other family members,” shared Dr. Margel, whose study is supported by a Career Development Award (CDA) from Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation.

Dr. Margel found that for male BRCA carriers, standard screenings and regular physicals may not be enough to adequately detect the disease.

“Magnetic resonance imaging can detect many more [cases of] cancer. We are now adjusting our screening guidelines for prostate cancer in BRCA carriers,” said Dr. Margel.

The Power of Giving

“I knew that I was at risk,” said Uriya. “But no one offered guidance.”

Further studies are needed to better treat at-risk populations underrepresented in clinical trials.

“Funding from the CDA helped me establish and hire my research team, which now includes a PhD in molecular biology and three research assistants,” explained Dr. Margel. “I was also able to establish the male BRCA clinic and create a one-of-a-kind biobank with over 4,000 samples from BRCA carriers.”

Donors make a tangible difference in the research needed to help patients like Uriya detect and conquer cancer before it grows and spreads.

“Before, I was lost,” Uriya told Dr. Margel. “After joining your clinic, I gained back control.” 

© 2020. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.