Retrospective review of male breast cancer patients: analysis of tamoxifen-related side-effects

Ann Oncol. 2012 Jun;23(6):1471-4. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdr459. Epub 2011 Nov 15.


Background: Approximately 2000 American men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Limited data are available evaluating toxicity of antihormonal treatments in male breast cancer patients.

Patients and methods: We reviewed male breast cancer patients evaluated at our institution (1999-2009). Of 126 patients, 64 met the following inclusion criteria: stage I-III, treated with tamoxifen, at least one follow-up visit after starting tamoxifen. A descriptive analysis of toxic effects was carried out on these 64 patients.

Results: Median follow-up from start of tamoxifen therapy was 3.9 years (range 0.3-19.4 years). Median age at diagnosis was 61 years (range 30-79 years). Breakdown by stage: 29.7% (n = 19) stage I, 54.7% (n = 35) stage II, and 15.6% (n = 10) stage III. Thirty-four (53%) patients experienced one or more toxicity while taking tamoxifen. Most common toxic effects are weight gain (14 patients, 22%) and sexual dysfunction (14 patients, 22%). Thirteen (20.3%) patients discontinued tamoxifen due to toxicity: one ocular, one leg cramps, two neurocognitive deficits, two bone pain, three sexual dysfunction, and four thromboembolic events.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the largest study examining tamoxifen-related toxic effects among male breast cancer patients. Among male patients, there is a high rate of discontinuation of tamoxifen. Prospective studies of antihormonal agents in male breast cancer are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / chemically induced
  • Tamoxifen / adverse effects*
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Refusal
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Tamoxifen