(updated June 2014)
About 1% of breast cancers each year in the United States of America are in males. There appears to be a rising trend in the USA. The American Cancer Society estimates about 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in 2014, whilst 430 will die from it. In 2011 in the UK (Cancer Research UK), about 350men were diagnosed with breast cancer and 80 men died from it. For men in the USA, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000 whilst in the UK in 2010, the lifetime risk is 1 in 868.
However, men should not die from the disease just because they are unaware its occurrence in males as well. Men with a family history of breast cancer should check themselves regularly and see their doctor the moment there is a change or “lump” felt in their breasts. As men have relatively undeveloped breast tissue, and the breast size is “smaller”, it is easier for them to detect changes or notice a mass/lump in their breasts.
The diagnosis/investigations and treatment for breast cancer in men is the same as for women. The earlier the stage at which the cancer is detected, the better the chance of successful treatment.
In the West, the majority of male breast cancer patients are in their 50s or 60s. Just like females, breast cancer genes (BRCA2) also affect men and increase their risk of breast cancer. In a paper published in 2010 (J Med Genet 2010;47:710-711 doi:10.1136/jmg.2009.075176), the risk was estimated to be about 7.1% by age 70 years and 8.4-8.9% by age 80 years.
In Malaysia, the National Cancer Registry (NCR) reported 56 news cases of male breast cancer in 2002 and 24 new cases in 2003. In 2007, the NCR reported 50 cases of breast cancer in men, which is only an ASR of 0.5 per 100,000 population. 23 were in Malays , 23 in Chinese and 1 in an Indian. 72% of these men were aged 50 years and older at the time of their diagnosis. Of the 24 new cases reported in 2003, 11 were in Chinese men while 7 were in Malay men. 71% were aged 50 years or more. In 2002, the male breast cancers were diagnosed in 26 Malay, 22 Chinese and 5 Indian men. 71% (40 of them) were diagnosed in those aged 50 years or more.
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