Breast Cancer in Men is More Aggressive

It is no joke that men can suffer and die from breast cancer just as women can. In fact, a new report concludes that while breast cancer is much rarer in men than women, it is more aggressive. Early diagnosis, treatment and recovery rates are all significant areas for improvement with male breast cancer. Men definitely do not do as well as women when it comes to this condition.


The author of the new research findings, Dr. Jon Greif, a specialist surgeon based in San Francisco says of men that… “They were less likely to get the standard treatments that women get.” Mortality rates are higher for men even when it is diagnosed in the early stages.

The cancers in the genders differ in many respects but much more research is needed to discover if the differences are sustained in clinical practice because of limitations in the scope of this study. In particular, the database used in the study followed deceased cancer patients, but the causes of death may or may not have been breast cancer.

Oncologists in America can expect to see more than 2000 cases of breast cancer in males each year. This statistic is from the American Cancer Society. They go on to predict that 410 men will die of the condition this year in the United States. Dr. Greif compared around 13,000 men with breast tumors, to more than 1.400,000 females with the condition in the 10 years from 1998.

The investigative team analyzed cancer characteristics and recovery rates, taking into consideration age, ethnicity and lifestyle factors. The male subjects were more likely to be black and less likely to be Hispanic. Furthermore, the men were older at diagnosis, 63 years of age on average, compared to 59 years for females.

[box type=”note”]Male breast cancer tumors tended to be larger at diagnosis and more likely to be at a more developed stage. Tumors involving lymph nodes and spreading to other parts of the body were more common in men than women. Men too, were less likely to be treated with partial mastectomy and radiotherapy follow-up the study found.[/box]

The headline statistic is worrying since women’s overall 5-year survival rate was 83% yet men’s was significantly less at 74%. This figure reflects all breast cancers at whatever development stage, although women did better with early stage diagnosis. The gap closed with later stage diagnoses in both sexes. The study team felt that more awareness of male breast cancer could help with early stage recovery rates.

Until this study men and women were thought to have the same prognosis, stage for stage.

However, the missing data on the cause of death, in this study is a big limiting factor and cries out for further study. It also raises awareness of the condition in men, and that can only be helpful.

The American Cancer Society recommends men to look out for the telltale symptoms of breast cancer. These are lump(s) or swelling, dimpling or puckering of surrounding skin, an inward turn of the nipple, scaling of the nipple or breast skin, redness of the nipple or skin of the breast, and discharge.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

One thought on “Breast Cancer in Men is More Aggressive

  • June 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Ouch. The picture says it all. Men need to know about breast self-examinations–and their personal physicians need to begin instructing them. 


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