Men too can get breast cancer and cases are on the rise, according to a survey conducted on over 2,500 cases at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre.
The researchers say it's important that men become more aware of the possibility that they may get breast cancer. The study shows the incidence of the disease is up from 0.86 to 1.08 cases per 100,000 men over the last 25 years.
They also looked at more than 380,000 cases of female breast cancer for comparison. Male patients tended to be somewhat older than female patients when diagnosed with the disease. They were also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage.
This is somewhat ironic, for it is easier to detect a breast tumour in a man. But, men may think that such tumours arise from a common benign condition called gynecomastia.
The most common breast tumour among males is invasive ductal carcinoma, which accounts for 93.4 % of cases.
Men are also more likely to have estrogen-positive tumours, which means they could benefit from tamoxifen treatment.
The survival rates for male and female breast cancers are similar, although the tumours may differ somewhat in their biology, the researchers said.
Youngest man with breast cancer
England’s Nicky Avery, 27, had hit the headlines in 2009 when he became the youngest man in the world to have breast cancer.
He is happy as his recent post-therapy reports show he is clear. But, he will have to have a bone infusion every three weeks to stay alive.
Now he wants to press on with his campaign to have the male form of breast cancer renamed chest cancer to encourage men to have themselves checked. He cites an example of another man who had breast cancer for five years and didn't tell anybody about it because he was so ashamed.
“Men haven't got breasts, they have got chests,” he reasoned during one of his interviews.
Avery was diagnosed with the disease three years ago. He said he was “shocked” at the diagnosis and at the time he didn't believe that men could get breast cancer.