Background: The causes, optimal treatments, and medical/psychosocial sequelae of breast cancer in men are poorly understood.
Design: A systematic review of the English language literature was conducted to identify studies relevant to male breast cancer between 1987 and 2012 and including at least 20 patients. Searches were carried out on PubMed using the title terms 'male breast cancer' or 'male breast carcinoma'.
Results: Relevant published data regarding risk factors, biological characteristics, presentation and prognosis, appropriate evaluation and treatment, and survivorship issues in male breast cancer patients are presented. BRCA2 mutations, age, conditions that alter the estrogen/androgen ratio, and radiation are proven risk factors. Disease biology is distinct in men, but diagnostic approaches and treatments for men are generally extrapolated from those in women due to inadequate research in men. Survivorship issues in men may include sexual and hormonal side-effects of endocrine therapies as well as unique psychosocial impacts of the disease.
Conclusion: Further research is needed to address gaps in knowledge pertaining to care of male breast cancer patients and survivors.
Keywords: breast neoplasms; drug therapy; etiology; male; survivors.