Male Breast Cancer :: Racial disparities seen in male breast cancer survival

A new study shows that among men treated for breast cancer, African-American men are more likely to die of the disease compared with white men. The results of the study are being published online March 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The studies by researchers at Columbia University analyzed race and other predictors of treatment and survival among 510 men over 65 diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer between 1991 and 2002. The researchers found five-year survival rates of approximately 90% among 456 white men and 66% among 34 African-American men.

“Racial disparities in outcomes in women with breast cancer have been well studied,” said Dawn L. Hershman, MD, MS, an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University and the study’s senior author. “This study shows that similar racial disparities exist for men. While male breast cancer is rare, understanding the factors that black men and women with breast cancer have in common may help us understand the reasons for these disparities.”

Male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancers and less than 1% of all cancers in men, but its incidence has been increasing, rising by about 60% between 1990 and 2000. In 2006, an estimated 1,700 new cases were diagnosed in the United States, and about 400 men died of the disease.

The study analyzed data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) cancer registry, a National Cancer Institute-sponsored, population-based database that provides detailed information on cancer statistics.

“These findings support more investigation into the clinical and biologic factors that contribute to racial disparities in male breast cancer,” Dr. Hershman said. “While many different factors are likely to be involved in the disparity, this study provides some clues that lower access to standard treatment may be an important cause.”

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