Breast Cancer in Men: Discover the Signs
Although it is rare, men can develop breast cancer. Studies have shown that breast cancer in men occurs roughly 1 in 100 breast cancers.
Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast grow out of control, often forming a tumor that can be felt as a lump or show up in an x-ray. Tumors become malignant (i.e., cancerous) once the cells invade surrounding tissues or spread to other areas of the body.
Men and women are susceptible to the same common types of breast cancers, including:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma occurs when cancerous cells grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. These cells can then metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma occurs when cancerous cells spread from the lobules (the milk-producing glands) to nearby breast tissues. The invasive cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a breast disease that may lead to breast cancer. The cancer cells are in the lining of the ducts and have not yet spread to other tissues in the breast but can result in breast cancer.
Ductal carcinoma is uncommon in men, as the male breast tissue has very few ducts.
What are the early warning signs of male breast cancer?
On average, most breast lumps are benign rather than cancerous. These abnormal growths do not spread outside the breast tissue and do not pose a fatal risk.
The most common symptoms of breast cancer in men are—
- Nipple discharge
- A lump or swelling in the breast
- Flaky skin or redness in the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of the breast skin
- Retraction of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Sores on the nipple and areola
In some cases, breast cancer can spread to the lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone, causing a lump or swelling in the area before the original tumor is large enough to be noticed in the breast.
If you have any symptoms that worry you, seek out a medical professional right away. These symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer.
What are the risk factors of developing breast cancer?
Several factors can increase the chance of developing breast cancer. However, having risk factors does not mean you will get breast cancer.
Factors that can increase the chances of male breast cancer include the following:
- Age- The risk increases with age.
- Obesity- Older men who are overweight are at higher risk.
- Estrogen- Taking drugs containing estrogen increases men’s breast cancer risk.
- Severe liver disease (cirrhosis)- Scarring of the liver can lower androgen levels and raise estrogen levels in men
- Family history- Risk factors are higher if a family member has had breast cancer.
- Radiation therapy- Radiation therapy treatment to the chest increases the risk.
- Klinefelter’s syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome.
- Conditions that affect the testicles- injury, swelling, or surgery to remove the testicles can increase the risk of breast cancer.
How do I treat breast cancer?
Treatment decisions depend on the results of breast tests and procedures.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken orally or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body.
Radiation therapy involves exposure to radioactive rays or particles after surgery, which can kill off any remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy is also for those whose breast cancer is inoperable.
Surgery for men with breast cancer is usually a modified radical mastectomy (removal of the breast and lymph nodes)
Targeted therapy — a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells
Hormone therapy — a cancer treatment that removes hormones or blocks their action and stops cancer cells from growing
Certain kinds of breast cancer require specific hormones to grow. Hormone therapy can inhibit the effects of these hormones. Because the vast majority of men’s cancers are hormone receptor-positive, this treatment is usually more effective in men rather than women. The standard therapy drug for treating breast cancer in men is called tamoxifen. Hormone therapy is another means sometimes used post-surgery to keep cancer from returning.
Trust Astera Cancer Care with Your Health
Early detection of male breast cancer can be lifesaving. If you believe you have signs and symptoms, please give us a call to schedule an appointment. Call (732) 390-7750 today.