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Male Breast Cancer Rates Undermined

Update Date: Jul 09, 2014 12:09 AM EDT
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Male breast cancer patients get diagnosed at an older age and later stage than their female counterparts, according to researchers.

While the disease is rare among men, recent statistics show that there are about 2,000 men diagnosed and 500 who died from breast cancer. Researchers noted that breast cancer is most likely diagnosed among men between the ages of 60 and 70. They believe that the disease is diagnosed at a later age and stage because most men believe they're not at risk of developing breast cancer.

"You'd think that because men have smaller breasts they would notice a lump instantly. But men don't expect a breast lump to be cancer, whereas most women who feel a breast lump immediately assume the worst," Dr. Tatiana Prowell, a medical oncologist and breast cancer scientific lead at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's office of hematology and oncology products, said in an FDA news release.

"You'd think that because men have smaller breasts they would notice a lump instantly. But men don't expect a breast lump to be cancer, whereas most women who feel a breast lump immediately assume the worst," Prowell said.

She also noted that there has been very little research into treating male breast cancer because men account for only 1 percent of all breast cancer cases.

"We tend to treat men the same way we treat women," Prowell said, according to HealthDay.

"Men have historically been excluded from breast cancer trials," she added. "We are actively encouraging drug companies to include men in all breast cancer trials unless there is a valid scientific reason not to. The number of men in breast cancer trials will still be small because male breast cancer is a rare condition, but any information to help men facing this disease is better than none."

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