A new study has reported that while men tend to have more advanced cases of breast cancer upon diagnosis than do women, men's likelihood of death from breast cancer is lower once age and disease characeristics are taken into account. The study was designed to compare trends in incidence, relative survival, and relative excess mortality between men and women with breast cancer. Male breast cancer is rare, with incidence less than 1% of that of female breast cancer. Given its rarity, few studies have examined male breast cancer risk and prognosis.

The study included 459,846 women and 2,665 men diagnosed with breast cancer in Denmark, Finland, Geneva, Norway, Sweden, and Singapore during the past 40 years. Rates of breast cancer were found to be 66.7 per 105 person-years for women and 0.40 per 105 person-years for men.

Generally speaking, women were diagnosed at a younger age (median: 61.7 years) than men (69.6 years). Men had worse five-year relative survival than women, corresponding to a 27% higher risk of death. However, after adjusting for age of diagnosis, year, tumor stage, and treatment, men were found to have a better relative survival from breast cancer than female patients. The authors conclude that male breast cancer patients have later onset of disease and more advanced disease than female patients. However, men with breast cancer have lower risk of death from breast cancer than women with comparable age and disease characteristics.

Please see our article on male breast cancer for more information.