We frequently hear about how common breast cancer is in females. However, did you know that one in every 100 men in the United States receives a breast cancer diagnosis?
Men have breast tissue, breast ducts, and may also have a few breast lobules, which are milk-producing glands, according to the American Cancer Society. While the ducts and lobules aren’t often active in men, the majority of breast cancers start there.
According to Dr. Sunanda Pejavar, a radiation oncologist affiliated with Sharp Memorial Hospital and a member of the Sharp Rees Stealy Medical Group and Sharp Community Medical Group, breast cancer in men is uncommon. But here at Sharp, we still see and care for male breast cancer patients.
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Male Breast Cancer Symptoms
Like any cancer, breast cancer in men starts when cells have gene mutations and become cancer cells that replicate. The cells can form into a malignant (diseased) lump or growth. Cancer cells can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
While women are encouraged to get regular breast cancer screenings and perform self-exams at home to track any changes in their breasts or the skin surrounding them, men aren’t often given such guidance. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things they should watch for, though.
According to Dr. Pejavar, signs of breast cancer in men include:
- A lump in the chest
- Swelling in the chest
- Nipple retraction
- Nipple discharge
- Skin changes, such as redness, dimpling or flaking
Male Breast Cancer Risk Factors
It is commonly established that men and women who have a close relative are both more likely to develop breast cancer. According to experts, 3 to 10 out of every 100 cancer diagnoses are linked to heredity. Other risk factors, both reversible and irreversible, are said to contribute, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The following are risk factors for breast cancer in men in addition to a family history of the disease:
- Growing old
- Genetic changes like BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Radiation or hormone therapy usage in the past
- A uncommon genetic disease called Klinefelter syndrome causes a male to have an extra X chromosome
- Damage, edema, or surgery to the testicles
- Liver illness
The CDC defines being overweight and obese as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. These conditions are risk factors for the majority of malignancies. A man’s risk of breast cancer can be decreased by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients, and engaging in regular exercise.
Treating Male Breast Cancer
When a guy is identified as having breast cancer, he will be given the same therapies as a woman. This will depend on a tumor’s size, location, and if cancer cells have spread internally or outside in the breast.
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Breast Cancer Treatments May Consist Of:
- Surgery to remove the affected breast, or just the cancerous portion
- Chemotherapy administered intravenously or orally
- High-energy X-ray radiation therapy that kills cancer cells
- Using hormone treatment to lower hormone levels or stop the growth of cancer cells
- Using medicines, monoclonal antibodies, or other substances to target and kill particular cancer cells
Although it’s uncommon, men can develop breast cancer, according to Dr. Pejavar. Men should be on the lookout for the symptoms and should not let the stigma associated with male breast cancer prevent them from getting treatment.