The Facts: Breast Cancer In Men



Male Breast Cancer comprises 1% of all diagnosed cases of breast cancer.

While rare, breast cancer can occur in men at any age, though it is usually diagnosed in men over fifty, primarily in the 60-70 year age group.

Just like breast cancer in women, early detection is the key to beating male breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008 some 1,990 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the United States. In 2008, about 450 men will die from breast cancer in the United States.

Male Breast Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Exposure to radiation
  • High levels of estrogen related to other disease entities
  • A history of Klinefelter syndrome
  • Hereditary altered gene factors (BRCA2 gene)
  • Family members diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Excess weight and excessive use of alcohol

Symptoms and Diagnosis:

Lumps or masses discovered in male breasts tend to be smaller than a female breast lump, though often more widespread, probably due to the fact that there is less breast tissue in males. Unfortunately men tend to ignore lumps, masses or redness, of the breast area, instead attributing it to other issues. Other symptoms of male breast cancer can include skin dimpling and nipple changes.

Initial diagnosis steps are the same as those for women and include a complete physical including breast exam, a mammogram and may include a biopsy.

Types of breast cancer found in men include:

  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma-The most common type of breast cancer which begins in the ducts of the breast and breaks through to breast tissue.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ-This type of cancer begins in the ducts and has not moved past the walls of the ducts. It is most often curable.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer-An uncommon cancer that does not begin with a lump, caused by cancer cells blocking the lymph ducts.
  • Paget disease of the nipple-A rare cancer that appears as a rash on one nipple, or areola area of the breast and may include an inverted nipple or nipple discharge.

Treatment and Recovery:

Treatment is determined after staging. Staging of breast cancer follows The American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM System.

Treatment options include:

  • Surgery-lumpectomy, mastectomy, lymph node dissection
  • Radiation-external beam, brachytherapy
  • Chemotherapy-in conjunction with other treatments or alone
  • Hormone therapy-most often utilized to prevent cancer from reoccurring
  • Targeted therapy-clinical trials are utilizing laboratory created antibodies to block or kill cancer cells

More detailed information of breast cancer treatment options for men can be found at the National Cancer Institute site.

Further resources and support for Male Breast Cancer:

The New York Times, June 10, 2003, Surprise Role for Ex-Senator: Male Breast Cancer Patient. Former Massachusetts Senator, Edward W. Brooke, discusses his journey with breast cancer.

Male Care-Men fighting cancer together.

MDJunction.com hosts the Male Breast Cancer Online Support Group.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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