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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Male Breast Cancer Up

Breast Cancer in Men Still Rare
WebMD Health News

May 24, 2004 -- Breast cancer in men is increasing but still rare, a large study shows.

Sharon H. Giordano and colleagues at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, performed the largest study yet of men with breast cancer. Using a National Cancer Institute database, they identified more than 2,500 men who got the rare disease from 1973 through 1998.

The major finding: Male breast cancer rates went up from 0.86 cases per 100,000 Americans to 1.08 cases per 100,000 during the study period.

That's a significant increase -- but small potatoes compared with the steady increase in breast cancer among women.

Giordano's team performed the study because relatively little is known about male breast cancer. The study showed that:

  • Men tend to be older than women are at the time of breast cancer diagnosis (average age is 67 for men and 62 for women).
  • Men diagnosed with breast cancer tend to have more advanced disease than women at first diagnosis.
  • For men and women at the same stage of breast cancer, survival tends to be about the same.

The findings appear in the early online edition of the July 1 issue of Cancer.

The fact that male breast cancer is increasing is significant because it often goes undiagnosed until later stages. This is likely because men are more apt to ignore a breast lump. If a man notices a breast lump, especially if it is painless, he should have it checked out by his doctor.

SOURCE: Giordano, S.H. Cancer, July 1, 2004; vol 101: early online edition.

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