Breast cancer in men

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Breast cancer in men, an underestimated risk

Only around one percent of all breast cancer diseases affect men. For this reason, many doctors are sometimes overwhelmed with the diagnostic procedures and therapies in men.

(02.08.2010) Every year around 500 men develop breast cancer in Germany, which seems relatively small compared to the approximately 55,000 cases of women, but still represents a not insignificant risk. In addition, the forms of treatment are mainly limited to therapies for patients with breast cancer, the model of which is then transferred to the male sex.

This is often not without its problems, since the biology of the man is different, as the Bremen oncologist Bernhard Wörmann emphasized to the "Kölner Stadt Anzeiger" and the therapies therefore sometimes do not show the desired success. Statistically, the proportion of male diseases is so low that the social relevance of the topic is rather insignificant and only due to the diseases of celebrities such as B. the ex-national football player Wolfram Wuttke or the former Kiss drummer Peter Criss occasionally comes into the public eye.

Breast cancer in men, an underestimated risk

Since around 99 percent of breast cancer diseases affect women, many men and doctors are not even partially aware of the problem, said Holm Eggemann from the Magdeburg University Clinic to the Cologne city of Anzeiger. and he goes on to say that "men (...) tend to have a higher tumor stage than women".

Only about one in 1,000 men will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, but in certain groups the risk is considerably higher. For example, men with mutated breast cancer genes BRCA 1, BRCA 2 have a disease risk of around 7%, and men who suffer from Klinefelter syndrome are just as much at risk of disease because of their increased female sex hormones as women. In addition, the risk of breast cancer increases significantly due to being overweight. But men who are not in any risk group can also develop breast cancer. Since most patients only consult a specialist relatively late, the tumors are often correspondingly larger than those of the patients and usually already have a diameter of over 2 cm. Reached.

Often disease of the lymph nodes

In 60 percent of the cases, the armpit lymph nodes are already affected. Because the lack of mass on the male breast cannot be removed as generously as in patients, the majority of patients require additional radiation after the surgical intervention and, if the lymph nodes are already affected, chemotherapy also follows in most cases.

In addition, almost all sick men receive hormone therapy (mostly with tamoxifen), since the tumor in about 95 percent of patients on female sex hormones such as. Estrogen reacts (the proportion is only about 75 percent in women). But the prescription of tamoxifen is also not without problems, because doctors base their prescription duration essentially on the forms of therapy for female patients and therefore prescribe tamoxifen for 5 years. However, according to oncologist Bernhard Wörmann, it cannot be reasonably estimated whether this is the right time frame, since there are no corresponding long-term studies. Even the side effects of hormone therapy in men have so far been completely unknown, but the first studies are already showing that the side effects in men are far more problematic than in women. Hot flashes, bone loss, an increased risk of thrombosis as well as psychological instability and impaired libido are mentioned here in the first place and are decisive for the fact that the problems for many patients only really started with the treatment. (sb)

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Image: Rainer Sturm /

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