New York: Men suffering with stage IV breast cancer can increase their survival with surgical intervention, according to a study.
Stage IV cancers spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body such as the bones, liver, and lungs. It may also spread to the brain or other organs.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines to treat men with stage IV breast cancer recommends systemic therapy, with surgery used to minimise symptoms such as ulcerations, pain, or bleeding, said first author Kelly A. Stahl, a surgical resident at Penn State College of Medicine.
However, new study findings, presented at the virtual American College of Surgeons (ACS) Clinical Congress 2021, showed that surgery does have survival benefits for men with stage IV breast cancer, she said.
"We need to re-examine the notion that stage IV breast cancer in men is so dire that there is no survival benefit to surgical intervention," said Daleela G. Dodge, MD, FACS, a general surgeon at Penn State Health.
"For this subgroup of patients who are responsive to systemic therapy and do not have a lot of metastatic burden, we'd like there to be a reconsideration of best practices," Dodge said.
Breast cancer in men accounts for less than 1 per cent of all breast cancer cases, whereas one in eight women get breast cancer compared to one in 1,000 men, Dodge said. As a result, public awareness of breast cancer in men is low.
"We have a whole month devoted to breast cancer awareness for women, but it's not well known that men can get it, too, and that some men even have a genetic predisposition to getting it," Stahl said.
Unfortunately, low public awareness has contributed to the fact that 6 per cent of women compared with 10 per cent of men are not diagnosed until they have stage IV cancer. In addition, 40 per cent of male breast cancer patients do not get diagnosed until stages III or IV even though breast cancer is easier for male patients to detect on their own, said Dodge.
"Men have a worse prognosis based on late diagnosis, so awareness is important," she added.
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