Breast cancer in men

Breast cancer in men

Breast Cancer Centre

Breast cancer in men

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Men possess a small amount of breast tissue that is concentrated in the area directly behind the nipple on the chest wall. Like breast cancer in women, cancer of the male breast is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells of this breast tissue.

Breast cancer in men is a rare disease. Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men.

Risk factors of breast cancer in men

A number of factors can increase a man’s risk of getting breast cancer:

  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Liver damage or dysfunction
  • Testicular abnormality or damage
  • Radiotherapy, especially to the chest
  • Taking of hormonal medicines with a high estrogen level
  • Family history of breast cancer (especially with a BRCA2 mutation)
  • Klinefelter’s syndrome.

Symptoms of male breast cancer

If you notice any persistent changes to your breasts, you should contact your doctor. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • A lump in the breast
  • Nipple pain, inverted nipple or nipple discharge
  • Sores on the nipple and areola¬†
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm.

Men are not routinely screened for the disease and as a result breast cancer tends to be more advanced in men than in women when it is first detected. Earlier diagnosis could make a life-saving difference. With more research and more public awareness, men will learn that, just like women, they need to go to their doctor right away if they detect any persistent changes to their breasts.

Treatment for male breast cancer

The course of treatment will depend on a number of factors, including the size and location of the breast tumor, the stage of the cancer and results of other laboratory tests. Examples of treatments are as follows:

  • Surgery or lymph node surgery
  • Radiation therapy¬†
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy.

Prognosis and quality of life

The prognosis of a patient with male breast cancer is considered similarly to breast cancer in a woman. Since men have less breast tissue than women, it is more common for breast cancers in men to have spread beyond the breast when they are identified, resulting in a more advanced tumour stage at diagnosis.

Men with breast cancer face a different environment than women coping with breast cancer. There is a large amount of information and public support for women, but there is a lack of information and added stressors for men. Men deal with issues of masculinity and stigmatism in addition to the other physical and emotional concerns that come along with having breast cancer.