In a nutshell
This study explored the efficacy of commonly used treatments in male breast cancer.
Male breast cancer has a much lower rate of occurrence than female breast cancer, therefore, many of the treatment recommendations for men are based on those made for females. Male breast cancer, however, often presents very differently: it is more often caught when already advanced (beyond the breast); and it is often dependent on the hormone progesterone for growth, but less often estrogen or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).
Despite the differences between male and female breast cancers, tamoxifen (Nolvadex) or aromatase inhibitors, which both decrease estrogen production, are generally the treatment of choice for male breast cancer, as these are the first-line treatments for hormone-dependent female breast cancer. The current study examined the use and effectiveness of tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors in male breast cancer.
Methods & findings
This study compared 158 male breast cancer patients and 1000 female breast cancer patients. 96% of the male breast cancer patients were estrogen receptor positive and 91% were progesterone receptor positive (depending on estrogen or progesterone for tumor growth). 77.2% of the cases were treated to cure the disease, while 22% were treated pallatively (patients whose disease had advanced beyond being able to cure).
69% of male breast cancer patients were treated with tamoxifen, and 55% of these patients did not experience any negative side effects. 10% of patients were treated with an aromatase inhibitor. Three of these patients discontinued treatment due to side effects including peeling skin, headaches, and dizziness.
Male breast cancer patients treated with a curative intent had a 5-year overall survival rate of 72%, compared to 80% for women. The 5-year breast cancer specific survival rate (where breast cancer is the eventual cause of death) was 86% for men and 90% for women. The 5-year progression free survival rate (the time before the disease progresses after treatment) was 62% for men and 77% for women.
The bottom line
This study concluded that despite differences in male and female breast cancers, treatments such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors have similar effects on survival.
Published By :
Clinical Breast Cancer
Feb 01, 2014
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