PURPOSE: Patients attending familial cancer clinics may find the term "mutation" offensive and potentially stigmatizing, yet there is little consensus in the literature as to the most appropriate alternative terms to describe a cancer-related mutation to individuals considering genetic testing for cancer risk. This study aimed to describe a cancer-related mutation in a rare group of familial cancer clinic patients: men at increased risk of carrying a breast cancer-related mutation. METHODS: Twenty-seven men completed a self-report questionnaire that assessed their preferences for language to describe a cancer-related mutation. RESULTS: Overall, men were most likely to spontaneously suggest the term "faulty gene" to describe a cancer-related mutation when asked an open-ended question about their language preferences. When asked to rate the term "faulty gene" in comparison to the terms "altered gene," "mutation," "nonworking gene," "malfunctioning gene," and "gene change," the term "faulty gene" received the highest mean preference rating in this sample of men at increased risk of developing breast cancer. CONCLUSION: This area of investigation remains controversial and would benefit from more formal and larger-scale investigations of the language preferences of individuals at increased risk of developing cancer.