First Significant Study of Male Breast Cancer to Look at Subtype and Race

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Scientists from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California examine breakdown of male breast cancer by subtype for the first time.

This kind of detailed information from a representative sample of male breast cancer patients simply did not exist prior to this study.

In a first of its kind study, scientists from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) have taken a comprehensive look at breast cancer among males, including a breakdown by subtype and race/ethnicity.

The study—which appeared in the Jan. 22, 2013 online version of the journal 'Cancer', and includes researchers from CPIC as well as MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas—used data from the California Cancer Registry to identify 606 male patients diagnosed with breast cancer between 2005 and 2009.

Breast cancer, in both men and women, is increasingly recognized to be composed of different subtypes, important to finding both causes and cures. “We found that 81% of the male breast cancers were hormone receptor- or HR-positive, meaning that the tumors were the type that’s sensitive to estrogen or progesterone hormones. Fifteen percent had the more aggressive HER2-positive tumors and fewer than 4% had difficult to treat triple receptor-negative (TN) tumors,” said CPIC Research Scientist Christina Clarke, Ph.D., one of the study’s authors.

Overall, male breast cancer is an uncommon disease, typically representing less than one percent of all breast cancer patients. For 2013, the American Cancer Society estimates that a total of 2240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

The researchers also looked at survival based on tumor subtype, which showed worse survival among patients with TN tumors. The study further found significant differences in survival by race/ethnicity among all participants, with blacks demonstrating the worst outcomes overall. Although after adjusting for stage and age, no difference was found in survival based on race/ethnicity.

In addition to Dr. Clarke, study authors include Mariana Chavez-MacGregor, M.D., Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D., and Sharon Giordano of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Daphne Lichtensztajn, M.D., of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.

About the Cancer Prevention Institute of California
The Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) is the nation’s premier organization dedicated to preventing cancer and to reducing its burden where it cannot yet be prevented. CPIC tracks patterns of cancer throughout the entire population and identifies those at risk for developing cancer. Its research scientists are leaders in investigating the causes of cancer in large populations to advance the development of prevention-focused interventions. CPIC’s innovative cancer prevention research and education programs, together with the work of the Stanford Cancer Institute, deliver a comprehensive arsenal for defeating cancer. For more information, visit CPIC’s official website at


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