Delayed treatment causes breast cancer to spread in men

July 7th, 2008 - 1:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 7 (IANS) Men with breast cancers are treated only after the disease has spread to the point it renders treatment more difficult, according to a study. Although women overwhelmingly constitute breast cancer patients, men comprise roughly one percent, according to reports at the ESMO Conference Lugano (ECLU), organised by the European Society for Medical Oncology.

The group led by Marina Garassino from the Orion Collaborative Group conducted a retrospective analysis of 146 men with invasive breast cancer diagnosed between 1990 and 2007 across 12 institutions.

What they found was that the disease often had already reached an advanced stage when the men were diagnosed. In half the cases, the cancer had already reached the lymph nodes, a development that increases the likelihood of metastatic spread to other parts of the body.

Of all the men who underwent surgery, 48 received radiotherapy and 100 received adjuvant chemotherapy or hormone therapy. After a median follow-up of 5.2 years, the estimated 10-year disease-free survival rates were 80 percent for men with the earliest stages of disease, and 44 percent for those with the largest tumours.

When the researchers looked at the characteristics of the tumours, they found that 73 percent were positive for oestrogen receptors and/or progesteron receptors.

Among a sub-group of 41 patients, 48.7 percent had tumours that over expressed the protein HER-2/neu, which is an indication of an aggressive tumour.

“Male breast cancer is a rare disease and not well known,” Garassino said. “It is treated the same way as female breast cancer, although our large retrospective series suggests that it has somewhat different histological characteristics.”

If treated early enough, the disease is highly responsive to hormone therapy, Garassino said. In those cases, the prognosis may even be better than in women, she added.

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