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SABCS 2014: Breast cancer in men and women has different biological characteristics and outcomes

Results from the largest series of male breast cancer cases ever studied showed that there was significant improvement in overall survival for male breast cancer patients over the duration of the study, but the improvement was not as good as has been seen for female breast cancer, according to research presented today at the 2014 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

“Although we saw a significant improvement in overall survival for male breast cancer patients over time, the prognosis for men with breast cancer has not been improving as much as for women with the disease,” said Fatima Cardoso, MD, director of the breast unit at the Champalimaud Cancer Center in Lisbon, Portugal.

“This is largely because male breast cancer is a rare disease—it accounts for just 1 percent of breast cancers—and we know very little about its biology and how best to treat patients.

“Our results provide new insight into the clinical and biological characteristics of breast cancer in men, and show that they are not the same as those previously reported for breast cancer in women,” continued Cardoso.

“Our results tend to show that men diagnosed with breast cancer are not well managed in the clinic. For example, even though most male breast cancers are ERpositive, we found that only 77 percent of patients received endocrine therapy like tamoxifen. 

"We also found that even though 56 percent of male breast cancers are diagnosed when the tumours are very small, only 4 percent of patients had breast-conserving surgery; most had a mastectomy, which significantly impacted their quality of life.”

Tumour analyses to determine the biological characteristics of male breast cancer showed that 92 percent were positive for the oestrogen receptor (ER), 5 percent were positive for HER2, and 1 percent were triple-negative.

In women, approximately 70 percent of breast cancers are ERpositive, 20 percent are HER2-positive, and 10 to 15 percent are triple-negative.

Watch the interview for more.

Source: SABCS

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