While men don’t develop breasts, they do have a small amount of breast tissue. Can men get breast cancer in this tissue? Yes, they can get the same types of breast cancer that women do, generally speaking.
Male breast cancer can be particularly problematic since often it’s not detected and diagnosed as early as female breast cancer. This is true for multiple reasons, including that men may be less concerned about or aware of changes in that area, and the fact that there’s less breast tissue, which may make it more difficult to feel a lump. Unfortunately, the smaller amount of tissue also means breast cancer in men can spread more rapidly to nearby tissue.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men
The symptoms of breast cancer in men are similar to those in women. They can include:
- A lump or thickening in the breast tissue that’s often (but not always) painless
- Discharge from the nipple
- Redness, scaling, puckering, or dimpling of the skin covering the breast
- Redness or scaling of the nipple
- Nipple turning inward
If you detect these male breast cancer symptoms, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor right away. Some issues that appear to be signs of breast cancer in men may be related to a different condition, but your doctor will make that determination.
Male Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Any man can develop breast cancer. However, there are certain factors that increase the risk. They include:
- Age, as male breast cancer is rare in those under 35 and risk increases with age. Most breast cancer occurs in men who are 60-70 years old.
- Having a close female relative who has had breast cancer.
- Having cirrhosis of the liver.
- Taking estrogen.
- Enlargement of the breasts caused by drug or hormone treatments, infections or other issues.
- Excessive exposure of the chest to radiation.
- Klinefelter’s syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
- Problems with the testicles including an undescended testicle, testicular injury or disease.
Knowing the factors associated with men and breast cancer can help you understand your risk.
Male Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Doctors use the same methods for diagnosing male breast cancer as breast cancer in women. This includes physical exams and male mammograms. Biopsies, in which a small bit of tissue is removed and viewed under a microscope, may also be performed.
Male breast cancer treatment methods are similar to those that women receive. This includes:
- Hormone therapy
- Biological therapy
One difference in the treatment of male and female breast cancer is that approximately 90% of male breast cancers have what are called hormone receptors. This makes them respond well to hormone therapy.
Learn More About Breast Cancer from Baptist Health
Take a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) questionnaire to estimate your personal health risk and identify your risk factors for breast cancer.