July 19, 2008
Breast cancer is not exclusively a disease of women. For every 100 women with breast cancer, 1 male will develop the disease. The National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates that approximately 1,700 men will develop the disease and 450 will die each year. The evaluation of men with breast masses is similar to that in women, including mammography.
The incidence of breast cancer is very low in a person's twenties, gradually increases and plateaus at the age of forty-five, and increases dramatically after age fifty. Fifty percent of breast cancer is diagnosed in women over sixty-five, indicating the ongoing necessity of yearly screening throughout a woman's life.
Breast cancer is considered a heterogeneous disease, meaning that it is a different disease in different women, a different disease in different age groups, and has different cell populations within the tumor itself. Generally, breast cancer is a much more aggressive disease in younger women. Autopsy studies show that 2% of the population has undiagnosed breast cancer at the time of death. Older women typically have much less aggressive disease than younger women. (read more information)