Men's Breast Cancer

A recent study led by Dr. Anita Aggarwal, an oncologist at the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center, is the most extensive look yet at the prevalence of the disease among VA patients. She and her colleagues combed the VA Central Cancer Registry to learn more about how many men in VA have the disease and how it compares with breast cancer among female Veterans who receive care in VA. Aggarwal presented the findings at a meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology in early June.

“In the general population, it’s very rare,” points out Aggarwal, noting that fewer than one percent of breast cancer cases occur in men. She says it’s on the rise, though, with data showing a 26 percent increase from 1975 to 2010.

Scientists don’t yet have a handle on why that is, but they do know that men with breast cancer are typically diagnosed at a later stage than their female peers.

“With men, there’s a delay in detection,” says Aggarwal. “There’s less awareness, no screening. And men don’t palpate their breasts every month, as do many women. All these factors combine.”