Jose P. Leone, MD, director of the program for breast cancer in men at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, shares why patients and providers need to pay more attention to how breast cancer impacts male patients.
More patients and providers need to be aware that breast cancer can happen in men in order to improve treatment and survival rates in this population, according to Jose P. Leone, MD, director of the program for breast cancer in men at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
How has the diagnosis and treatment of men with breast cancer evolved over time, and what more needs to be done to ensure adequate treatment for this population?
Leone: So, breast cancer treatment in men has historically mirrored the treatment for women. And many of those things are actually still being done today. So, for example, the use of tamoxifen as a standard endocrine therapy option in men remains the current standard today. The use of mastectomy initially, and then, the adoption of other possible surgical options, such as lumpectomy in men, has been something that has changed over time also. We look forward to having more data in some of the questions that we have in clinics to move the field forward in the treatment of breast cancer in men and to get data specific for men as compared with women.
What are some of the challenges that are unique to treating men with breast cancer?
Leone: One of the biggest challenges is the lack of data specific for men. Sometimes there are no studies done to answer a particular question. Sometimes the studies are of lower quality than the size that we're used to seeing in women. And that, to me, is one of the biggest challenges in in managing this type of breast cancer.
What do you wish that more oncologists and health care professionals understood about breast cancer in male patients?
Leone: One of the main things for me, personally, I think, is awareness and to be aware that breast cancer can happen in men because early diagnosis of men who present with signs and symptoms of breast cancer is very important given the lack of screening mammograms in this population. So, I would like people to be aware that this can happen and not delay to the workups, which sometimes happens.