The number of men found to have breast cancer in Scotland has increased by more than 50% over 25 years, according to a landmark study.

Research by the University of Aberdeen found diagnoses have gone from 0.8 cases per 100,000 men in 1992 to 1.3 cases per 100,000 men in 2017.

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It is the first time Scottish data has been analysed in this way, but the increase follows a similar pattern seen across the world in countries including the US, where male breast cancer diagnosis is also on the rise.

Professor Valerie Speirs, who led the study, said: “With this type of data, it’s hard to say if this is a real rise or just that men are becoming more aware and presenting with symptoms.

“Maybe 25 years ago, they would have just ignored it then either died with the disease without even knowing they had it or before it became a bigger problem.

“Plus we are living longer, and cancer is associated with ageing, so the rise may reflect this.

“Importantly, our findings emphasise the need for a better understanding of male breast cancer.

“We need to determine the risk factors of the disease so that improved prevention policies can be applied. Going forward there may also be a call to design bespoke treatment for men so we can target molecules expressed by male breast cancer.”

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This rising trend was most prominent in the north of Scotland, although it was also generally stronger in rural areas.

The study, published in the European Journal of Surgical Oncology, found male breast cancer accounted for 0.36 per cent of all breast cancers diagnosed in 1992, rising to 0.65 per cent in 2017.