Study Shows Breast Cancer On The Rise - In Men
New research reveals that the number of cases of male breast cancer in the UK is increasing. Dr Valerie Speirs at the University of Leeds led the study, which reviewed hundreds of male breast cancer cases in England, Scotland, Canada and Australia.
Each year around 340 men are diagnosed with the disease, and around 70 of them will die. Dr Speirs discovered that in England the incidence of male breast cancer increased from 185 cases in 1986 to 277 cases in 2006.
Pinpointing an exact cause for this increase is difficult, according to Dr Speirs. Lifestyle changes over the past few decades have led to increased obesity, physical inactivity and the development of a binge-drinking culture, which could all be contributing factors.
Some of the same inherited genetic changes that increase the risk of women developing the disease are also thought to influence the risk in men.
Due to the relatively small number of cases of men with the disease, research has been difficult. Most of the information used to diagnose and treat men comes from studies of female breast cancer, but data from the study, funded by Campaign and Yorkshire Cancer Research, has given new impetus to scientists studying male breast cancer in more detail.
Our Tissue Bank is collecting and storing samples of male breast tissue, which are invaluable to researchers working to understand the disease.
Dr Speirs now plans to focus on examining the genes and proteins involved in male breast cancer to determine whether there are similarities or differences with female breast cancer. This may highlight gender-specific differences, which can be exploited to improve and develop treatments targeted at men.
‘While cases of male breast cancer are increasing, it must be stressed that the numbers are still small – 150 times less than in women,’ says Dr Speirs. ‘But men need to be more aware of the risks as early diagnosis increases the chances of survival.’
Male breast cancer in numbers
- 47,700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year
- 340 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year
- Each year 70 men will die from the disease
- 33% increase of male breast cancer cases in England over a 20-year period
Symptoms to look out for…
If you discover discharge from the nipple that may be blood stained, swelling of the breast,
a sore or ulcer in the skin of the breast, a nipple that is pulled or retracted into the breast or a lump under the arm, contact your GP straight away.