Men get breast cancer too: IU cancer center begins new research efforts to understand the rare disease

Unlocking the differences

Donations to the tissue bank are critical puzzle pieces for many researchers. A frequent user of the tissue bank’s resources, Nakshatri plans to be among the donors for the June collection event.

Back in the lab, Nakshatri hopes to understand why women and men respond differently to current breast cancer treatments. About 87 percent of breast cancer in men are estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive), meaning estrogen is fueling the growth of the cancer. Similarly, about 70 percent of breast cancer in women are ER-positive, he said.

“Women respond better than men to ER-targeted therapies, but based on the estrogen receptors, they are the same,” Nakshatri said. “Why is that, and what fundamental differences exist? We have started addressing that issue. Our current data says that estrogen receptor works differently in men than in women’s breast tissue.”

For male breast cancer researchers and advocates, this work is just the beginning. Buntrock recalls her son sharing a story from when he had to have a mammogram. Staff asked who he was waiting for, and he replied, “I’m here for myself.” These experiences and Bowman’s passion for health care fueled his efforts.

“Matt was really passionate about increasing awareness because most men don’t know they can get breast cancer. That was his goal – to make sure men know they can get breast cancer,” Buntrock said.

June 10 male breast tissue collection

Interested in donating? The donor signup form is now open. To learn more about the male breast tissue collection on Saturday, June 10, visit or call 317-274-2366.