Men with breast cancer were found to have a 19% higher overall mortality rate compared to their female counterparts in a study that was recently published in JAMA oncology.
The possiblility of a distinct cancer biology in male and the lack of effective treatment, or compliance issues, and perhaps unhealthy lifestyles might be responsible for the evident lower overall survival rates in men,elucidates the senior author Dr. Xiao-Ou Shu.
Clinical characteristics and undertreatments was found to contribute to about 63% of the sex-related mortality disparity.
For the study, researchers followed up registry data of 11 years from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2014, which included 1.8 million female patients and 16,025 male patients with breast cancer.
A higher proportion (85%) of male breast cancer was found to be estrogen-receptor positive (ER-positive) compared to only 75% of female population which showed ER positive breast cancer.
ER-positive cancer typically responds to hormone therapy. These typically have better outcomes too when treated early due to the effectiveness of hormone therapy drugs in women with that cancer.
“We have a lot of treatment options for that type of breast cancer. In theory, men should have better outcomes and have lower mortality as women do if the treatment is equally effective.”says Dr. Shu in a media release.
How he noted that the previous studies have shown that men may not be as compliant with hormonal treatments as women.
Dr. Shu also underscores the probability of a biological difference between ER-positive breast cancer among male and female patients.
The researchers call for more studies to be conducted focusing on male breast cancer in mitigating the disparity in mortality rate based on sex.
However, the studies would require an international consortia as male breast cancer is observed to be rare, accounting for less than 1% of cases, says the researchers.