Male Breast Cancer

All people, whether male or female, are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. Even so, male breast cancer is very rare. Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment

Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma

Of the men who develop breast cancer, the vast majority of those cases are Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), which means cells in or around the ducts begin to invade surrounding tissue. Very rarely, a man might be diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, or Paget disease, of the nipple.

 

Risk Factors

  • Radiation exposure
  • High levels of the hormone estrogen
  • Family history of breast cancer, especially breast cancer that is related to the BRCA2 gene.

 

Signs & Symptoms

Male breast cancer can exhibit the same symptoms as breast cancer in women, including a lump. Anyone who notices anything unusual about their breasts, whether male or female, should contact their physician immediately. Survival rates and treatment for men with breast cancer are very similar to those for women. Early detection of breast cancer increases treatment options and often reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Genetic testing

Although treatment outcomes are very similar to women at the same stage of detection, a man diagnosed with breast cancer should also consider seeing a genetics counselor for a consultation. If a man tests positive for a defective gene (most commonly either BRCA1 or BRCA2) that can lead to a future diagnosis of breast cancer and his children have a 50% chance of carrying the gene. In addition:

  • A male child of a man with breast cancer who inherits the defective BRCA2 gene has only approximately 6% chance of eventually developing breast cancer and just over 1% with BRCA1.
  • A female child of a man with breast cancer who inherits the defective gene has a risk between 40% and 80% of eventually developing breast cancer.
  • Men with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer are also at higher risk of getting prostate cancer at a younger age than usually diagnosed. 
Create Your Early Detection Plan

The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a plan that helps you detect the disease in its early stages.

Providing Help for Women in Need

Through our National Mammography Program, we provide mammograms for women who are uninsured or cannot afford them.

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