About Breast Cancer in Men

Breast cancer in men is rare — less than 1 percent of all breast cancers occur in men. Consider the latest estimated statistics from the American Cancer Society:

  • In 2009, fewer that 2,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among men in the U.S.
  • Of the 40,610 deaths from breast cancer in 2009, 440 were men and 40,170 were women.
  • The average age at diagnosis is 67, although men of all ages can be affected with the disease.

What Are Risk Factors For Breast Cancer in Men?

Risk Factors may include:

  • age
  • radiation exposure
  • estrogen treatment
  • disease associated with hyperestrogenism, such as cirrhosis or Klinefelter's syndrome
  • heavy alchohol intake
  • obesity

Also, genetics and family history play an important role in breast cancer risk.

  • An increased incidence is seen in men who have a number of female relatives with breast cancer.
  • An increased risk of male breast cancer has been reported in families in which a BRCA2 (Breast Cancer 2) gene mutation has been identified. This gene is thought to be responsible for about 10 percent of breast cancers in men.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer in men?

The most common symptoms of breast cancer in men may include:

  • breast lumps
  • nipple inversion
  • nipple discharge (sometimes bloody)
  • a pain or pulling sensation in the breas
  • skin or nipple changes, such as dimpling, puckering, redness or scaling

The symptoms of breast cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

What are the similarities to breast cancer in women?

Lymph node involvement and the way the cancer may spread are similar in female and male breast cancer. The staging system for breast cancer is the same in men and women.

As with breast cancer in women, the size of the tumor and the presence or absence of lymph node involvement are significant factors for prognosis.

Overall survival is similar to that of women with breast cancer. The impression that male breast cancer has a worse prognosis may stem from the tendency toward diagnosis at a later stage.

Treatment for men with breast cancer

Specific treatment for male breast cancer will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

The primary standard treatment is a modified radical mastectomy, just as it is with female breast cancer.

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