While only about 1% of men are diagnosed with breast cancer, a rec Study: Breast Cancer May be More Deadly in Men (dateline June 3, 2007) | Breast Health News | Imaginis - The Women's Health & Wellness Resource Network

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Study: Breast Cancer May be More Deadly in Men (dateline June 3, 2007)

While only about 1% of men are diagnosed with breast cancer, a recent study finds that men may be at higher risk than women of dying from the disease. Treatment for breast cancer in men is based upon research of breast cancer in women, but the study suggests that there may be biological differences among male and female breast cancer that could affect survival. A greater understanding of breast cancer in men is needed, according to the researchers.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 1,450 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in men each year and approximately 470 men die from breast cancer annually. Symptoms of male breast cancer may include a breast lump, swelling, skin dimpling or puckering, nipple retraction (the nipple turns inward), redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin, and nipple discharge.

To examine breast cancer in men, Zeina A. Nahleh, M.D. of the University of Cincinnati and colleagues studied data from Veterans Affairs (VA) Central Cancer Registry. VA patients who had breast cancer diagnosed between 1995 and 2005 were included in the study, representing 120 VA centers. In total, 3025 patient records were reviewed.

The researchers found that men with small breast cancer tumors or tumors that had not yet spread to the lymph nodes tended to die before females with similar diagnoses (6 years for men versus 15 years for women). No difference in survival was noted for men with advanced stages of breast cancer, compared to similarly diagnosed women. In addition, men were less likely than women to receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy for breast cancer.

More research is needed to better understand male breast cancer and develop treatments that more effectively treat the disease. In the meantime, researchers have identified several factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer in men.

Risk factors for male breast cancer include:

  • Advancing age (most men are diagnosed with breast cancer between 60 and 70 years of age)
  • Family history (breast cancer in female or male family members)
  • Radiation exposure
  • Liver disease
  • Treatment with estrogen
  • Gene mutation (specifically breast cancer gene 2)
  • Klinefelter's syndrome (a genetic condition that occurs when a man is born with two or more X (female) chromosomes)

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