Background: Considerable debate exists concerning the prognosis of breast cancer in male patients compared with that in female patients. Some studies have observed worse prognosis for men; others suggested the higher mortality rates were primarily due to delayed diagnosis.
Methods: Survival time from diagnosis with invasive disease to death resulting from breast cancer of 58 men treated between 1973 and 1989 was compared with survival of 174 women treated between 1976 and 1978 who were matched by stage of disease and age at diagnosis. All patients were treated by mastectomy and axillary dissection.
Results: Tumors were ⩽2 cm in 70% of cases and 55% were free of axillary metastases. The histology of the tumors differed significantly by gender (p<0.05). Significantly more men had estrogen receptor-positive tumors (87%) than did women (55%, p<0.001). Survival at 10 years was similar for male and female patients. Multivariate analysis controlling for tumor size, number of positive axillary lymph nodes, age at diagnosis, histology, and receptor status indicated no significant difference in survival of male compared with female patients.
Conclusions: These data conflict with the conventional wisdom that breast cancer in men carries a worse prognosis than the disease in women. Although histology of the tumor and receptor status differed by gender, these factors did not have an impact on survival in these paired patients. Our data indicate that breast carcinoma in males is not biologically more aggressive than in females.