Gentlemen, it’s good to be informed. Breast cancer occurs not only in women, but in men as well. Men also have breast tissue, and those cells can turn into cancer.
While it can develop at any age, breast cancer is typically found in men between the ages of 60 and 70. It makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer. When found in men, the most common treatment is surgery – a modified radical mastectomy, meaning the removal of the breast, many of the lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over the chest muscles, and sometimes part of the chest wall muscles. The survival rate for men is similar to that for women when the stage at diagnosis is the same. However, men are more often diagnosed at a later stage, which is less likely to be cured. Later diagnosis happens likely because men are less apt to be suspicious of something strange in the breast area.
The signs and signs and symptoms of male breast cancer are similar to that of women, with the most common including:
- Breast lump or swelling
- A nipple that turns inward (inversion)
- Fluid leaking from the nipple, discharge that may be bloody
- A pain or pulling sensation in the breast
- Skin or nipple changes such as dimpling, puckering, redness, or scaling
While many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems, it’s important to see a healthcare provider if you detect any of them. Prevention and early detection remain the best defense and only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer.
Risk factors for men include:
- Radiation exposure, such as radiation that was used to treat another cancer in the chest area
- Estrogen treatment
- Diseases associated with high estrogen levels and low levels of male hormones (hyperestrogenism), such as cirrhosis or Klinefelter syndrome
- Heavy alcohol intake
- Female relatives with breast cancer
- A breast cancer 2 (BRCA2) gene mutation in the family
For more information about breast cancer in men, visit our website. If you are exhibiting any signs or symptoms, don’t wait. See your healthcare provider. You can use our online physician directory to find a physician that suits your needs or search for your current physician’s contact information.