This year, 2000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Fewer than 500 of them will die from the disease. In general, men's chances of developing the disease are about 100 time less that of women's. Comparatively, about 200,000 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis.
Like women, men who have a first-degree family member with the disease have a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer. Men who carry a BRCA gene mutations are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than men in the general population, but even so, breast cancer is rare in men.
Because it is rare, and there is some stigma attached, men have not been routinely included in breast cancer studies. This is a problem because what we know about breast cancer -- in men and women -- is incomplete.
While men have had successful outcomes from treatments tested on women, there is still more to learn because men's breast cancer isn't exactly the same, and there are important factors that influence men's prognoses when they have breast cancer:
- Men's diagnoses come later than women's. Typically men get a breast cancer diagnosis 5-10 years later than women, and when they are older -- in their 60s and 70s.
- Men get breast lumps, too, but rarely expect those lumps to be cancer, and so they seek treatment later.
Image: From Hisbreastcancer.org