Men are far less likely than women to get breast cancer, but if they do get it, they do better with treatment and are less likely to die from it, according to a new study.
It was previously thought that because breast cancer is usually discovered later in men, it is more likely to be fatal. But after adjusting for age and other factors, researchers found that men actually fared better than women.
The American Cancer Society projects that about 2,140 American men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and about 450 will die from it. The chance of an American man being diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in his life is 1 in 1,000.
In comparison, 1 in 8 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer some time in her life and 1 in 35 will die from it.
The researchers, who published their findings this month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, analyzed breast cancer statistics for men and women living in Western Europe and in Singapore. They found that the average female was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 62, while the average male was diagnosed at age 70. Men with breast cancer were less likely to live five years after the diagnosis. But when the data was adjusted to account for age and health factors, the men lived longer than the women.
Dr. Mikael Hartman of the National University of Singapore, a co-author of the study, said it’s unclear why men would do better with treatment, but says it seems their bodies react better to anti-hormone treatments and chemotherapy.