Characteristics of male triple negative breast cancer: A population-based study

Sofia Ghani, Matthew Sochat, Jingqin Luo, Yu Tao, Foluso Ademuyiwa

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5 Scopus citations


Male triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), which lacks expression of the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), is a very rare entity, comprising only a very small percentage of all male breast cancer cases. Management strategies are typically based off research conducted in female TNBC patients; however, there is still much that remains unknown in the male cohort, such as risk factors for developing these malignancies, the optimal treatment approach, and both short-term and long-term outcome data. In this retrospective cohort study, we aimed to address these concerns by assessing both the characteristics of male patients who develop TNBC as well as their outcomes. We harnessed data from the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program and identified 66 male patients diagnosed with TNBC between 2010 and 2016. Patients were stratified by several variables including age, insurance status, time period of diagnosis, histology, nodal status, tumor grade, tumor stage at diagnosis, and treatment strategy employed for the assessment of overall survival (OS) differences. Our analysis demonstrated that stage remains the most important prognostic factor for OS, with higher stage corresponding to worse OS. A significant OS benefit was also identified in men undergoing a total mastectomy, compared to partial mastectomy or no surgery at all. We also identified that male patients are more likely to present with more advanced disease stages compared to their female counterparts and, therefore, have worse outcomes on average. This may be due to various factors, including the rarity of male TNBC cases and less clear screening guidelines for male breast cancer in general. Trends toward poorer OS with higher tumor grade, higher tumor T stage, advanced age, earlier time period of diagnosis, and ductal histology were also identified, but did not achieve statistical significance. The remaining variables did not appear to influence outcomes in a meaningful manner. In summary, our study suggests, similar to population studies of women with TNBC, that tumor stage is a major prognostic factor of OS in men with TNBC. The data also suggest that the surgical treatment strategy employed is also likely of significance, with improved OS being seen with total mastectomies over partial mastectomies. Other variables such as tumor grade and T stage also likely play a role, but did not achieve statistical significance owing to the small population size. Owing to the rarity of cases, further studies of male TNBC are needed to better understand this rare entity and guide future management strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1748-1755
Number of pages8
JournalBreast Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • male breast cancer
  • male triple negative breast cancer
  • outcome study
  • population study


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