Breast cancer in men is rare, affecting about 2,600 men in the United States every year. Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men. Male breast cancer can occur at any age, however, it is more common in older men over the age of 60. Men can also carry gene mutations (eg BRCA) that increase their risk of developing breast cancer and other types of cancer.
Male breast cancer grows in a man’s breast tissue. Male breasts can’t produce milk but they do have fatty tissue, duct, and breast cells. The cancer develops when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in breast tissue which forms a tumor. The tumor can also spread to other parts of the body, known as “metastatic disease”.
Risk factors for male breast cancer include:
Men don’t typically get regular mammogram scans like women, therefore, a physical sign of breast cancer will usually be the first thing a man or a partner notices:
If you notice any of these signs or something else that concerns you, it is very important that you schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment for breast cancer in men depends on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Treatment usually beings with surgery to remove the tumor and, in many cases, all the breast tissue (mastectomy) and some of the axillary (armpit) lymph nodes.
It is important to discuss all of your options with your doctor and ask questions such as:
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