In a recent study, researchers found that men with breast cancer have lower survival rates compared to women, across all stages of the disease. The disparity has been derived from an analysis of data from the National Cancer Database.
According to the study by Vanderbilt researchers, as cited by Science Daily, the disparity has been persisted even when other characteristics, such as types of cancer, treatment and access to care are taken into consideration. The study published in JAMA Oncology noted that for men, the five-year mortality rate was 19% higher than that for women.
Further studies need to be done to figure out the reason behind it. Moreover, such studies would need international consortia since male breast cancer is so rare. "It is so rare, it would be extremely difficult for any single institute to recruit a sufficient number of patients for research," said Xiao-Ou Shu, co-lead of the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
They came to the conclusion after using 11 years of registry data for the study which included 1.8 million female patients whereas only 16,025 male patients. It was found that 85% of male breast cancer is ER-positive whereas it's 75% in the case of female patients who have breast cancer.
"That is a cancer type where patients usually fare better because we have a hormonal treatment," Shu said. "We have a lot of treatment options for that type of breast cancer. In theory, men should have better outcomes and have lower mortality as women do if the treatment is equally effective."
"The question is whether there are some other biological differences between ER-positive male breast and ER-positive female breast cancer. We don't know," Shu added. "The bottom line is that we need more studies specifically focused on male breast cancer."