Men and Breast Cancer

Male breast cancer may occur. Males at any age may develop breast cancer, but it is usually detected (found) in men between 60 and 70 years of age. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer.

Types of breast cancer found in men:

  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma: Cancer that has spread beyond the cells lining ducts in the breast. Most males with breast cancer have this type of cancer.
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ: abnormal cells that are found in the lining of a duct; also called intraductal carcinoma.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer: A type of cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm.
  • Paget's disease of the nipple: A tumor that has grown from ducts beneath the nipple onto the surface of the nipple.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells found in one of the lobes or sections of the breast) which sometimes occurs in women, has not been seen in men.

Male Risk Factors

  • Exposure to radiation.
  • Having a disease related to high levels of estrogen in the body, such as cirrhosis (liver disease) or Klinefelter's syndrome (a genetic disorder).
  • Having several female relatives who have had breast cancer, especially relatives who have an alteration of the BRCA2 gene.

Male breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes).

A doctor should be seen if changes in the breasts are noticed. Typically, males with breast cancer have lumps that can be felt. A biopsy can be done to check for cancer.

Different Types of Biopsies

  • Needle biopsy: The removal of part of a lump, suspicious tissue, or fluid, using a thin needle. This procedure is also called a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.

  • Core biopsy: The removal of part of a lump or suspicious tissue using a wide needle.

  • Excisional biopsy: The removal of an entire lump or suspicious tissue.

After the tissue or fluid has been removed a pathologist views it under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

Male Breast Cancer Survival Rate

Survival for males with breast cancer is similar to that for women with breast cancer, when their stage at diagnosis is the same. Male breast cancer, however, is often diagnosed at a later stage. Cancer found at a later stage may be less likely to be cured.

Chance of male breast cancer recovery: The prognosis depends on the following:

  • The stage of the cancer (whether it is in the breast only or has spread to other places in the body).
  • The type of breast cancer.
  • Certain characteristics of the cancer cells.
  • Whether the cancer is found in the other breast.
  • The patient's age and general health.
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Men and Breast Cancer