Fatima Cardoso, MD

Fatima Cardoso, MD

If not for BCRF/PFP, the International Male Breast Cancer Program would not exist and the knowledge about this rare but important disease would be much poorer. With greater knowledge, better treatments and better survival are possible.

Coordinator, European School of Oncology Breast Cancer Program
Secretary General, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer
Director, Breast Cancer Unit
Champalimaud Cancer Center
Lisbon, Portugal

Areas of Focus:  Metastasis and Tumor Biology

Co-Investigators: John M.S. Bartlett, MD, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland; Sharon Giordano, MD, MPH, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Current Research:

  • Characterizing the biology of breast cancer in men to develop better treatments and improve outcomes.
  • Male breast cancer samples are being evaluated for prognostic and predictive biomarkers.
  • The Male Breast Cancer Study has shed new light on this disease and will continue to guide better treatments and prevention strategies.

Male breast cancer is a rare disease accounting for less than 1 % of all breast cancers and 1 % of all cancers in men. Knowledge about this disease is still scarce and management is largely extrapolated from female breast cancer. Drs. Cardoso and Giordano are leading an international effort to characterize the biology of male breast cancer to develop better treatments and improve outcomes for men with breast cancer. The project consists of a retrospective analysis of tumor samples and clinical data, a prospective registry of men with breast cancer and a clinical trial to test new treatments.

Full Research Summary

Full Research Summary:

The Male Breast Cancer Study (MBCS), led by Dr. Fatima Cardoso with BCRF colleagues, Drs. Bartlett, Giordano and Symmans, is an ongoing worldwide effort coordinated by the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), with the help of the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), and organized under the network of the Breast International Group [BIG] and the North American Breast Cancer Groups (NABCG).

This program has three parts. Part One is a retrospective joint analysis of clinical data and tumor samples. The study involved 1473 male breast cancer patients treated in the last 20 years in 23 centers from nine countries, representing the largest series of male breast cancer patients ever studied. Results from these efforts have identified both similarities and differences in biology compared to female breast cancer, including specific molecular subtypes, with potential treatment implications. This year, the research team will focus on identifying biomarkers that could guide treatment decisions.

Part Two of the study is focused on creating a prospective registry of all male breast cancer patients treated within the EORTC/TBCRC/BIG/NABCG global network and includes collection of biological material that can be used for future studies. This part is ongoing with over 300 patients on study. The researchers are currently conducting in-depth biological characterization of the samples.

Part Three is a prospective clinical trial that will evaluate a new drug to treat male breast cancer. The trial has not been initiated yet.

This important work will lead to the development of better treatment strategies for men with breast cancer.


Dr. Cardoso is the Director of the Breast Unit of the Champalimaud Cancer Clinical in Lisbon, Portugal. She earned her medical degree at the University of Porto in Portugal and completed fellowships in the Translational Research Unit of the Jules Bordet Institute (IJB) in Brussels, Belgium, and the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. She then worked for 10 years as Assistant Professor at the Medical Oncology Clinic of the IJB where, besides her clinical work, she was active in the Translational Research Unit and was responsible for phase II-III trials in breast cancer. She is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine.

Dr. Cardoso’s research interests include biology of breast cancer, prognostic and predictive markers of response to systemic therapy, and new anticancer agents.  She is actively involved in a number of phase I-III breast cancer clinical trials and served as the scientific director of the international research network TRANSBIG for 7 years (EU Framework VI).

Dr. Cardoso is actively involved in numerous professional organizations such as ESMO, ECCO, EORTC, ASCO, and AACR where she serves on several committees, is a Board Member and Chair of the National Representatives Committee of ESMO, the current EORTC Secretary General and chair of the EORTC-Breast Cancer Group. She is also the Breast Cancer Program Coordinator of the European School of Oncology and co-chair of the Advanced Breast Cancer International Consensus Guidelines Conference (ABC). Dr. Cardoso is editor-in-chief of The Breast Journal, associate editor of the European Journal of Cancer, and an editorial board member of several other journals.

She was awarded the prestigious Order of Santiago da Espada for Scientific Merit from the President of Portugal in June 2015.

Dr. Cardoso has authored over 230 publications and has presented her work nationally and internationally.