Because breast cancer in men is rare few studies have evaluated factors associated with better outcomes. New research is beginning to fill this gap. Breast cancer is rare in men, but is somewhat underestimated. Male breast cancer (BMB) represents only 1% of all breast cancer cases. However, some researchers believe that the occurrence has increased in recent years.
Scientists have also noted differences between the biology of cancer in BMT and breast cancer in women. They have also noticed other differences between breast cancer in women and BMT. For example, because breast cancer in men usually occurs later in life and often is transmitted to lymph nodes, making it difficult to treat.
In summary, these factors may mean that treatment for more common forms of breast cancer is less effective in treating BMT.
Breast cancer in men analyzed
Although the treatment of breast cancer has improved significantly in recent years, as a recent study shows, it is unclear whether this progress has been applied to the treatment of breast cancer in men.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, have decided to understand how doctors in the United States treat breast cancer in men and what factors can lead to better outcomes.
They did one of the largest studies to investigate breast cancer in men and recently published the results of their study in the journal Cancer.
To investigate this, scientists used data from the National Cancer data-bank, which examined data from men with breast cancer diagnosed with stages 1 to 3 between 2004 and 2014. In all, the study included data from 10,873 men.
The median diagnostic age was 64 years, 51% of the diagnoses being on men between 50 and 69. Only 15% of those diagnosed were under 50 years old.
They found that 24% of men were operated on in a way to save their breasts and 70% of men were irradiated.
They also showed that 44% of men with breast cancer received chemotherapy and 62% of people whose cancer had the estrogen receptor received anti estrogen therapy.
Over the past 10 years, scientists have noticed a steady increase in the percentage of total and prophylactic mastectomies when the surgeon preventively removes healthy breast tissue.
They also noticed an increase in genomic testing on cancerous tumors and also an increase in the use of anti-estrogen therapy.
Factors associated with worse outcomes
The authors of the study wanted to understand which factors could predict worse health outcomes. The prognosis was found to be worse for black men, older patients, people with chronic health problems other than breast cancer, and people at the later stages.
Those who had a complete mastectomy also had worse results. However, as the authors explain, it may be due to over-representation of patients with larger tumors and those whose cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes.
In contrast, the prognosis was better for men living in high-income areas, for men with progesterone receptor tumors, and for men receiving radiation, anti-estrogen therapy, or chemotherapy.
The authors observe certain limitations in their research. For example, researchers did not have access to the names of medications prescribed by physicians and were not always able to determine whether the cancer had returned after treatment.
However, with this study the authors hope that their findings will help doctors that are treating men with breast cancer get better results. They also hope that the article will be a source of inspiration for future research into this misunderstood disease.