19 October 2015
This week’s chat will focus on male breast cancer. Approximately 1 in 1000 men will be affected annually in the US, accounting for approximately 2350 cases per year. Approximately 440 men will die due to metastatic breast cancer. Male breast cancer is often diagnosed in later stages compared to women for several reasons – there is no general screening test recommended for men, men may be less likely to perform self-exams, and physicians are not always alert to the possibility that a lump may be cancer.
Treatment for male breast cancer is similar to that recommended for women. Mastectomy is more often performed as the tumors tend to be larger, making lumpectomy difficult. Chemotherapy and hormonal therapy (tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors) are often generally used. Most male breast cancers are invasive ductal, estrogen receptor positive. Men with breast cancer should undergo genetic counseling and testing as they may carry a BRCA mutation. Anyone with a family history of male breast cancer should know that it is considered a “hereditary red flag”.
Recently, awareness of male breast cancer has increased, in part due to many advocacy groups that have developed. Awareness is needed among patients AND physicians. Research directed towards male breast cancer is needed – men and women are different, and they might benefit from different treatments.