Could such regular X-ray screening also help men?
A new study argues there’s potential benefit in regular mammograms for men who are at high risk of breast cancer.
Mammography accurately detected dozens of cases of breast cancer in nearly 1,900 men screened during a 12-year period, results show.
These men were at increased risk of breast cancer due to their genetics, race or ethnicity, prior radiation exposure, hormone imbalances or other medical factors, said lead researcher Dr. Yiming Gao, an assistant professor of radiology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
“Mammography screening has helped detect breast cancer early in women, and we have shown it can do the same for men,” Gao said.
The study also found that men who already had breast cancer were 84 times more likely than others to get it again. And men with an immediate relative such as a sister or mother who had breast cancer had triple the risk.
Breast cancer is much rarer in men than women. About 2,670 breast cancers will be diagnosed in men this year, compared with 268,600 new cases diagnosed in women, said Robert Smith, vice president of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society.
But because men aren’t regularly screened, male breast cancer tends to be diagnosed when it’s reached a more advanced stage, Gao said.
“For this reason, men with breast cancer often do not do as well as women,” she said. “More men die from breast cancer than from testicular cancer according to American Cancer Society estimates, although the latter is more common.”
To see whether mammograms might help detect breast cancer in men, Gao and her team studied 1,869 male patients who had more than 2,000 X-ray screenings between 2005 and 2017.
The men sought testing either because they felt a lump in their breast or because a family member had recently been diagnosed with the disease.