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Male breast cancer patients are undertreated, more likely to die

Residents of New Jersey may know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but they may not be aware that breast cancer affects men as well as women. The numbers are much smaller, of course, with some 2,200 men being diagnosed every year (compared to the 245,000 women who are diagnosed every year, according to the CDC). Still, there is concern around the fact that male breast cancer patients see lower survival rates than women.

A JAMA study reveals that men are less likely than women to be alive three to five years a diagnosis. Part of the reason is that men tend to be diagnosed when the cancer is in a later stage. Besides that, there are no concrete guidelines that men can follow for early detection. While manually examining the breasts for lumps is recommended, many men simply don’t do it because of the image of breast cancer being a women’s disease.

Researchers found that one contributing factor to the lower survival rate is undertreatment. For reasons that are still unclear, men are less likely to receive conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy. Other studies have pointed out that clinical breast cancer trials have excluded men. The FDA is pushing for a change in this area.

Sometimes, breast cancer patients are the victims of diagnostic errors. When this occurs, a victim may be able to pursue a medical malpractice case and be compensated for losses related to the worsening of their condition. These losses could include medical costs, pain and suffering and income lost from the time taken off work. It may be wise to hire a lawyer, though, since it can be difficult to prove that a doctor was negligent; it first of all requires knowledge of the generally accepted standards of medical care.