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Male Breast Cancer Deadlier for Blacks

Racial disparity mirrors that of more common female breast tumors, researchers say

FRIDAY, March 16, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Black men are more likely than white men to die of breast cancer, concludes a study that urges more research into racial disparities in male breast cancer.

Male breast cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all breast cancers and less than 1 percent of all cancers in men, according to background information in a news release about the study. In 2006, about 1,700 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States, and the disease killed about 400 men.

The incidence of male breast cancer has been rising, increasing about 60 percent between 1990 and 2000.

In the study, researchers at Columbia University, New York City, studied 510 men over age 65 who were diagnosed with stage 1-3 breast cancer between 1991 and 2002.

Five-year survival rates were about 90 percent for the 456 white men in the study and 66 percent for the 34 black men.

The findings are reported in the March 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"Racial disparities in outcomes in women with breast cancer have been well studied. This study shows that similar racial disparities exist for men. While male breast cancer is rare, understanding the factors that black men and women with breast cancer have in common may help us understand the reasons for these disparities," study senior author Dr. Dawn L. Hershman, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia's Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a prepared statement.

"These findings support more investigation into the clinical and biologic factors that contribute to racial disparities in male breast cancer. While many different factors are likely to be involved in the disparity, this study provides some clues that lower access to standard treatment may be an important one," Hershman said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about male breast cancer.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, news release, March 16, 2007
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