Treatment delays result in poor outcomes for men with breast cancer

Jul 06, 2008

Men who develop breast cancer are often not treated until the disease has spread to the point that treatment becomes difficult, new results show.

Although most breast cancer patients are women, men make up roughly 1% of cases, Dr. Marina Garassino from the Orion Collaborative Group reports at the ESMO Conference Lugano (ECLU), organized by the European Society for Medical Oncology.

Her group conducted a retrospective analysis of 146 men with invasive breast cancer who were diagnosed between 1990 and 2007 across the 12 institutions in the ORION collaborative group.

What they found was that the disease often had already reached an advanced stage when the men were diagnosed. In 50% of cases the cancer had already reached the lymph nodes, a development that increases the likelihood of metastatic spread to other parts of the body.

All the men underwent surgery to remove their cancer. After surgery, 48 received radiotherapy and 100 received adjuvant chemotherapy or hormone therapy. After a median follow-up of 5.2 years, the estimated 10-year disease-free survival rates were 80% for men with the earliest stages of disease, and 44% for those with the largest tumors.

When the researchers looked at the characteristics of the tumors, they found that 73% were positive for estrogen receptors and/or progesteron receptors. Among a sub-group of 41 patients, 48.7% had tumors that overexpressed the protein HER-2/neu, which is an indication of an aggressive tumor.

"Male breast cancer is a rare disease and not well known," Dr. Garassino said. "It is treated the same way as female breast cancer, although our large retrospective series suggests that it has somewhat different histological characteristics."

If treated early enough, the disease is highly responsive to hormone therapy, Dr. Garassino said. In those cases, the prognosis may even be better than in women, she added. An ongoing case-control trial is examining this suggestion.

"What is important for people to know is that most of the patients in our study had a delay in their diagnosis due to the fact that a mass in their breast was misunderstood," Dr. Garassino said. "Therefore it is important that every mass in a man's breast must immediately be considered suspicious."

"Better understanding of male breast cancer will also provide better insights for treating these patients with modern targeted therapies", the researcher added. "We are currently conducting a molecular study on tissues to define help characteristics that might be important for this purpose."

Source: European Society for Medical Oncology

Explore further: Researchers find one third of cancer patients are killed by a 'fat-burning' process related to obesity

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Advancing medicine, layer by layer

Jul 02, 2014

Personalized cancer treatments and better bone implants could grow from techniques demonstrated by graduate students Stephen W. Morton and Nisarg J. Shah, who are both working in chemical engineering professor ...

Materials scientists turn to collagen

Jun 05, 2014

(Phys.org) —Miniature scaffolds made from collagen – the 'glue' that holds our bodies together – are being used to heal damaged joints, and could be used to develop new cancer therapies or help repair ...

Recommended for you

S.Korea detects second foot-and-mouth case

2 hours ago

South Korea on Monday reported its second case of foot-and-mouth disease in less than a week, triggering fearful memories of a devastating 2011 outbreak that forced the culling of millions of livestock.

Oncology fellows, clinicians report similar burnout

2 hours ago

(HealthDay)—U.S. oncology fellows may underestimate the workload they will experience once they enter practice, according to research published online July 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Ebola kills Liberian doctor, 2 Americans infected

2 hours ago

(AP)—One of Liberia's most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying ...

Virus drugmaker fights pediatricians' new advice

2 hours ago

(AP)—A drugmaker is clashing with pediatricians over new recommendations to limit use of a costly medicine for preventing serious lung problems in preemies and other high-risk children.

User comments : 0