Is male breast cancer similar or different than female breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2004 Jan;83(1):77-86. doi: 10.1023/B:BREA.0000010701.08825.2d.


Objective: To determine if male breast carcinogenesis was similar to its more common female counterpart, we compared incidence patterns among men and women with breast cancer.

Methods: Breast cancer records were obtained from the SEER database. Women were stratified by age < 50 and > or = 50 years to simulate premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer.

Results: Age-adjusted incidence trends were stable among men but increased among women. Male to female breast cancer ratio was higher for blacks than for whites. Favorable prognostic factors reflective of tumor biology (nuclear grade and hormone receptor expression) were more common for men and postmenopausal women than for premenopausal women. For example, low nuclear grade, estrogen and progesterone receptor-positive expression were more common among men and postmenopausal women than among premenopausal women. The age-specific incidence rate curve for men increased steadily for all ages with a constant slope. On the other hand, age-specific rates for women increased rapidly until age 50 years then rose at a slower rate for postmenopausal women. Age-frequency distribution for male breast cancer was unimodal, with peak incidence at age 71 years. Age-frequency distribution for women was bimodal with early-onset and late-onset incidence at 52 and 71 years, respectively.

Conclusions: Gender-specific incidence trends differed, most likely reflective of female-related changes in surveillance and/or reproductive risk factors. On the other hand, similar prognostic factor profiles reflective of tumor biology, age-specific incidence rate patterns, and age-frequency distributions suggested that male breast cancer was more like postmenopausal than premenopausal female breast cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • SEER Program
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology