Breast Cancer in Men

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Breast cancer in men may be rare. But it's often deadly. Unaware that they can get breast cancer, men don't pay attention to symptoms. They don't seek care in time to get treated.

If you or a male loved one see any kind of changes in your chest area, see a doctor. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chance to survive.

Types of Breast Cancer in Men

Men have breast tissue. They also have breast parts: glands, ducts, nipples, and fatty tissue. Breast cancer can develop in any of these.

Cancer in the Breast Ducts 

  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma starts in the ducts. It then spreads into surrounding tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer in men.

  • Ductal carcinoma situ stays in the ducts and has the highest cure rate.

  • Paget’s disease, a very rare cancer, moves from ducts to the nipple and areola.

Breast Glands

Infiltrating lobular carcinoma starts in breast glands. This rare cancer type then spreads to other tissue.

Skin Changes

Inflammatory breast cancer causes visible skin changes around the breast and nipple. It's rare, but aggressive.

Treating Breast Cancer in Men

We combine therapies to make treatment effective.

These include:

  • Surgery
    • Modified radical mastectomy
    • Radical mastectomy
    • Lymph node dissection
    • Sentinel node biopsy
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Biologic or immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Hormone-blocking therapy

Which Men Get Breast Cancer?

There's not one cause for breast cancer in men. You may have a higher risk if you have:

  • Advanced age
  • A family history of breast cancer
  • Genetic mutations, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and others
  • Been exposed to radiation, especially in the chest
  • Had exposure to increased levels of estrogen, which may occur with:
  • Klinefelter syndrome
  • Liver diseases
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Testicular disorders, such as an undescended testicle
  • Obesity
  • Gynecomastia
  • Prostate cancer treatment
  • Certain occupations, such as exposure to high heat or gasoline fumes

What to Look for in Your Chest

When breast cancer first develops, you may have no symptoms. As the cancer grows, it can cause the following changes:

  • One or more lumps in the breast, which may or may not be painful
  • One or more lumps in lymph nodes near the breast, under your arm, or collarbone that which may or may not be painful
  • Changes in the skin or nipple, such as dimpling, puckering, or nipple retraction
  • Redness, irritation, or ulceration of the skin in the breast area
  • Discharge from the nipple, which may be clear or bloody

Diagnosis

In most cases, we'll need to perform a biopsy to diagnose your condition.

Types of biopsies include:

  • Fine-needle aspiration
  • Core needle
  • Surgical
  • Samples of lymph tissue and nipple discharge

Imaging tests can help with diagnosis and determine the extent of cancer. These may include:

  • Mammography
  • Ultrasonography
  • MRI scan

If cancer is present, your doctor may order other tests to learn more about the type of cancer. These may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Tissue evaluation

 

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.