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Male Breast Cancers Resemble Advanced Female Cancers

Study finds deaths from breast cancer have not declined in males as much as females

THURSDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Though rare, male breast cancers often resemble late-onset female breast cancers, and breast cancer incidence and death rates have not declined in males as much as females over the last few decades, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

William F. Anderson, M.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues analyzed the characteristics of male and female breast cancers diagnosed in the United States between 1973 and 2005.

The researchers found that 5,494 male breast cancers and 835,805 female breast cancers were diagnosed during this period, with males making up less than 1 percent. Male breast cancers occurred later in life and resembled late-onset female breast cancers, with higher stage, lower grade, and more estrogen receptor-positive tumors. Although breast cancer incidence and mortality declined over this period for both men and women, the declines were greater for women. After adjusting for age, stage and grade, deaths from breast cancer fell by 42 percent for women but only 28 percent for men when comparing death rates in 1976 to 1985 with 1996 to 2005.

"This is one [of] the largest comparative studies to date of male versus female breast cancers and an important source of information in the absence of randomized clinical trials for men," Anderson and colleagues conclude. "Additional translational studies are needed to better extrapolate the successful adjuvant treatments for female breast cancer to male breast cancer, especially hormonal treatments for hormone receptor-positive disease."

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