Breast Cancer in Men Has Distinctive Biological Features

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. For men, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. Still, some scientists think that the incidence of breast cancer in men is going up.

Researchers have some evidence that breast cancer in men has different biological features than breast cancer in women. Still, because the disease is uncommon, research is limited.

To learn more about the biology of breast cancer in men, researchers compared the Oncotype DX test results of men diagnosed with early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive disease to the results of women diagnosed with the same type of breast cancer. The results found that the breast cancers in men had higher gene expression for:

  • the gene that controls the number of estrogen receptors
  • the gene that controls how quickly the cancer cells divide
  • the gene that controls how quickly the cancer invades healthy tissue

compared to breast cancer in women.

Men also had lower 5-year breast-cancer-specific survival.

The research was published in the May 10, 2018 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read the abstract of “Molecular Characterization and Mortality From Breast Cancer in Men.”

The Oncotype DX test is a genomic test that analyzes the activity of a group of 21 genes from a breast cancer tissue sample that can affect how a cancer is likely to behave and respond to treatment.

Doctors use the Oncotype DX test to help figure out a person’s risk of early-stage, estrogen-receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer coming back (recurrence), as well as how likely someone is to benefit from chemotherapy after breast cancer surgery.

The Oncotype DX test results assign a Recurrence Score — a number between 0 and 100 — to the early-stage breast can…

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