Male Breast Cancer Is Different from female
Dr. Fatima Cardoso, Director of the breast unit at the Champalimaud Cancer Centre in Lisbon, Portugal said in a press release of the American Association for Cancer Research, that though the prognosis for male breast cancer has improved over time, it hasn’t improved with the same leaps and bounds as female breast cancer.
Cardoso attributes this to the fact that male breast cancer is a rare disease – only 1% of the population suffers from it. Thus there isn’t much literature available to study the phenomenon and figure out best treatment methods.
Cardoso’s new study followed the treatment of 1800 men who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990 and 2010. The average age of these men was 69 years old. Only 77% of these men got endocrine therapy like tamoxifen when their cancer was indicated. Even though 56% diagnoses were made in the early stages of cancer, not more than 4% had breast conserving surgery. Most had a mastectomy, the research found.
In women, 70% breast cancers are estrogens receptor (ER) positive. Other types for women are known as HER2 and triple negative. Almost 92% breast cancer in men was attributed to ER-positive which requires estrogens to grow. Far fewer of the men’s cancer could be attributed to HER2 and triple negative.
According to the study, a follow up on more than 1000 men studied, 63% were still alive. The problem, according to Dr. Courtney Vito, assistant clinical professor of breast cancer and surgical oncology at Hope Cancer Centre in Duarte, California, is that men present far later for treatment and thus do not always get the treatment they need. Some men do not pay attention to signs and symptoms – like a lump, change in breast skin like redness, or a change in appearance of the nipple, or discharge – and brush it off; not thinking it could be a symptom of breast cancer. Vito cautions men saying they should get themselves checked in case a symptom presents itself.
Though male and female breast cancers are significantly different, there are notable similarities and overlaps in disease presentation and behaviour. While that information can be used, it is still important to independently study male breast cancer.