Critical reviews in oncology/hematology, 2010; 73 (2) doi:10.1016/j.critrevonc.2009.04.003
Affiliation: University of Roma "La Sapienza", Italy
Abstract: Male breast cancer (MaleBC) is a rare disease, accounting for <1% of all male tumors. During the last few years, there has been an increase in the incidence of this disease, along with the increase in female breast cancer (FBC). Little is known about the etiology of MaleBC: hormonal, environmental and genetic factors have been reported to be involved in its pathogenesis. Major risk factors include clinical disorders carrying hormonal imbalances, radiation exposure and, in particular, a positive family history (FH) for BC, the latter suggestive of genetic susceptibility. Rare mutations in high-penetrance genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) confer a high risk of BC development; low-penetrance gene mutations (i.e. CHEK-2) are more common but involve a lower risk increase. About 90% of all male breast tumors have proved to be invasive ductal carcinomas, expressing high levels of hormone receptors with evident therapeutic returns. The most common clinical sign of BC onset in men is a painless palpable retroareolar lump, which should be evaluated by means of mammography, ultrasonography and core biopsy or fine needle aspiration (FNA). To date, there are no published data from prospective randomized trials supporting a specific therapeutic approach in MaleBC. Tumor size together with the number of axillary nodes involved are the main prognostic factors and should guide the treatment choice. Locoregional approaches include surgery and radiotherapy (RT), depending upon the initial clinical presentation. When systemic treatment (adjuvant, neoadjuvant and metastatic) is delivered, the choice between hormonal and or chemotherapy (CT) should depend upon the clinical and biological features, according to the FBC management guidelines. However great caution is required because of high rates of age-related comorbidities.
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