PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The FDA is calling for more men to be included in clinical trials for breast cancer drugs, an effort to understand similarities and differences. It’s rare, but men do get breast cancer. There are about 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men every year.
By including men in clinical research, the FDA hopes to determine if treatments for them should be altered.
Chef Peter Botros is the owner of several restaurants. Seven years ago, he received a diagnosis that’s usually delivered to women.
“I thought it had to be a mistake,” he said. “Just trying to put the pieces together of how a 26-year-old man could have breast cancer.”
Botros was diagnosed after noticing a bloody discharge from his nipple. It was a devastating blow after losing his mother to breast cancer when he was just 14 years old.
“She had cancer pretty much my whole life — on and off, she had beat it and it came back,” he said. “Beat it and it came back.”
Breast cancer in men is rare, accounting for less than 1% of all breast cancers.
Now the FDA is issuing new recommendations to include men in breast cancer studies to better understand the disease.
“We surprisingly don’t know that much about male breast cancer,” Dr. Ben Park said. “We have a little bit more knowledge than we did 10 years ago, but some of the issues have been because we don’t actually have a lot of male breast cancer patients to study. Many times they are not included in clinical trials.”
Treatment that men receive is usually based on data collected on women. The hope is that will change with more men involved in research.
For now, some men need to take special precautions.
“If they have strong family history and there are women with breast cancer in that family, they should also undergo genetic testing and counseling and screening,” Park said.
Botros says he shares his story to help get rid of the stigma, to let men with breast cancer know they shouldn’t feel ashamed or alone.
Cases of breast cancer are usually more advanced in men by the time they are diagnosed because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.