Breast Cancer in Men on the Rise: New Report
Although breast cancer is typically thought of as a woman’s disease, men are at risk for this type of cancer as well. In fact, breast cancer in men is on the rise, according to new research from the University of Leeds.
Most men are unaware of their breast cancer risk
The researchers evaluated breast cancer cases in men in England, Scotland, Canada, and Australia and found a one-third increase in cases in England over a 20-year period. Even though the overall number of cases was small (from 185 cases in 1986 to 277 cases in 2006), it indicates an increase, and one that experts cannot explain.
According to Dr. Valerie Speirs, who headed the study, possible contributing factors include the rise in obesity, lack of exercise, and binge drinking. In addition, “some of the same inherited genetic changes that increase the risk of women developing breast cancer are also thought to influence risk in men,” she noted.
Speirs explained that their findings are important because “many men are unaware they can be affected by breast cancer, but this work has highlighted that the number of cases is gradually increasing.” Men who experience symptoms such as a discharge from the nipples that may be tinged with blood, a pulled or retracted nipple, a lump under the arm, swelling of the breast, or a sore or ulcer in the breast skin should see their physician immediately.
Breast cancer in men is rare, accounting for only about 1% of all breast cancers. In the United States, the American Cancer Society estimated 1,970 new cases of male breast cancer would be diagnosed in 2010 and cause about 390 deaths. Breast cancer in men is typically detected between the ages of 60 and 70, but it can develop at any age.
The findings from this latest study have led Dr Speirs and her colleagues to conduct further research, including examination of the genes and proteins involved in male breast cancer and comparing them with those in female breast cancer. Their work may ultimately lead to new treatments specifically for male breast cancer.
This study may help increase awareness of breast cancer in men. Such awareness is critical because early diagnosis and treatment increases the chances of survival.
American Cancer Society
University of Leeds