Previous Breast Cancer Or Lump
You have a higher risk of developing breast cancer again if youve previously had breast cancer. The risk is also higher if youve had early non-invasive cancer cell changes in breast ducts. This could have been either in your other breast or in the same breast.
A benign breast lump doesnt mean you have breast cancer.
Certain changes in your breast tissue, such as cells growing abnormally in ducts , or abnormal cells inside your breast lobules , can make getting breast cancer more likely.
Coping With Breast Cancer
If your results show you have breast cancer, you may feel a range of emotions such as shock, fear, disbelief, anger, guilt and sadness.
You may find it hard to take in or believe what you are being told.
Try not to keep your feelings to yourself or cope on your own. There are people who can support you, so dont be afraid to ask for help.
Causes Of Painful Breast Lumps
Hormonal activities are very high in women especially during their menstrual cycle, when pregnant and while undergoing perimenopause period. During these periods the level of estrogen may go up thereby causing overproduction of oil in the body some of which may lead to a lump development on the skin including the breast. The lump formed may sometimes be painful and some women even find it hard to bend while carrying out their house chores. These types of lumps should never cause anxiety since it will disappear without any treatment after the period you are undergoing is over.
Women are supposed to maintain a high standard of hygiene especially in the areas around the breast. This is because this area is always covered and therefore it is always warm and moist more so for breastfeeding women. All these conditions are very encouraging when it comes to yeast infection which may appear as a rash or a painful lump in breast. Therefore, women whose hygiene is poor are likely to develop a breast lump easily even from the clogging of the pore on the area.
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What Else Could It Be
Several health issues can bring on symptoms that look like signs of breast cancer in men. Some of them are:
Gynecomastia. This is when your breast tissue gets larger or swells. It’s usually due to a hormonal issue. It can also cause a lump to grow under your nipple.
Infections. These can lead to painful inflammation or pockets of pus . You may also run a fever.
Lipoma. This is an oval-shaped lump thatâs made of fat. It rarely brings on other symptoms.
Pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia . This noncancerous breast lesion can feel like a small lump. In some cases, it makes breasts larger.
Granular cell tumor. Itâs usually benign, and it often shows up as a single, painless lump.
Joggerâs nipple. If you do a lot of exercise that makes your shirt rub against your chest, it can irritate your nipples and cause pain, redness, or bleeding. Itâs more common when the weatherâs hot and humid.
Mastitis. This means inflamed breast tissue. It can lead to redness, warmth, pain, and swelling. An infection can cause it.
Skin rash. These can show up anywhere on your body, including your chest. The affected skin can become tender, red, scaly, or itchy. Just a few of the things that can cause a rash are eczema, yeast infections, and hives.
American Cancer Society: âBreast Cancer Signs and Symptoms,â âCan Breast Cancer in Men Be Found Early?â âSigns and Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men.â
UpToDate: âBreast Cancer in Men.â
When Should You Call The Doctor
Pick up the phone right away if you notice any of the signs above. If breast cancer is causing your symptoms, tests can help your doctor spot it early, improving your chances for successful treatment. Guys with the disease tend to get diagnosed when their cancer is in a later stage, which can make it harder to treat.
So, if you notice a lump in your breast or any other symptoms that concern you, donât wait for them to go away on their own. Call your doctor, even if the possibility of having breast cancer makes you uncomfortable. Thereâs nothing to feel embarrassed about.
Let your doctor know if you have close relatives with breast cancer. It runs in families, so that could increase your odds.
But remember, having one or more of the symptoms doesnât necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Itâs not common for guys to get this disease, especially if youâre under 60. Overall, less than 1% of all breast cancer cases happen in men.
Other conditions could be to blame for your symptoms. Your doctor can find out for sure.
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Diagnosis Of Male Breast Cancer
Doctors use a number of different diagnostic tests to find out whether or not breast cancer is present and, if so, whether it has spread outside the breast. Diagnostic tests are also used to gather more information about the cancer to guide decisions about treatment.
If you have possible symptoms of male breast cancer, your doctor may recommend some combination of the following diagnostic tests:
Each time your doctors remove tissue from your breast or lymph nodes whether as part of the initial biopsy or during surgery for breast cancer they will send it to a lab for testing. The tests will tell whether or not cancer is present and, if so, will provide information about the characteristics of the cancer. All of the test results together make up your pathology report. Your doctors will discuss the results in your pathology report with you. The information in the report will help you and your doctors decide which treatments are best for you.
In most cases, you can expect the pathology report to classify the breast cancer as one of the following:
Learn more about the information that may be in your pathology report.
If you are a man who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, you and your medical team will develop a treatment plan based on the characteristics of the cancer and other factors.
Learn more about the Treatment of Male Breast Cancer.
Overview Of Male Breast Cancer
The etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer in males is similar to that in females. Unlike breast cancer in females, however, breast cancer in men is rare. Although its frequency has increased in recent decadesparticularly in the urban United States, Canada, and the United Kingdombreast cancer in males accounts for less than 1% of breast cancers. In the United States, males are expected to account for only 2710 of the estimated 290,560 cases of breast cancer predicted to occur in 2022.
Unfortunately, this rarity has largely precluded prospective randomized clinical trials. It may also contribute to the infrequency of early diagnosis. Men tend to be diagnosed with breast cancer at an older age than women and with a more advanced stage of disease, and they have proportionately higher mortality, although outcomes for male and female patients with breast cancer are similar when survival is adjusted for age at diagnosis and stage of disease.
See the image below.
For more information, see the following:
For patient education information, see Male Breast Cancer.
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How Are Breast Lumps Treated
Treatment for a breast lump depends on the cause. Some lumps dont require any treatment.
Breast lump treatment includes:
- Antibiotics for a breast infection.
- Fluid drainage for a breast cyst .
- Excisional biopsy to remove a mass .
- Cancer treatment if the lump is biopsy-proven breast cancer. Cancer therapies may include lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Causes Of Male Breast Lumps And Other Breast Changes In Males
Breast cancer has traditionally been thought of as an exclusively female cancer, but thanks to the many awareness campaigns surrounding breast cancer, increasing numbers of men are now aware that they too can get breast cancer. This is good news, because early diagnosis greatly improves the prognosis.
Men who notice anything unusual within their breast/chest area are right to take note and see their doctor. However, breast cancer is not the only cause of male breast symptoms by any stretch of the imagination, and the nature of your symptoms can give you some ideas as to what you may be dealing with even before you make that appointment which yes, you should definitely do.
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Pay Attention To Breast Changes
A lot of men aren’t aware that breast cancer can be a problem for them. As a result, men are less likely to speak up about breast changes and often get diagnosed at a more advanced stage of breast cancer than women. Always see your doctor if you notice anything unusual in the area of your breast.
What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men
Because men dont have regular mammogram scans like women, physical signs of breast cancer are often the first indication a man notices. The most common symptoms of breast cancer in men include:
- Breast lump: A thickened area, lump or mass may grow on the breast, behind the nipple or in the armpit.
- Change in appearance: The breast tissue may look larger, puckered, misshapen or sunken. There may be a dimple or several small divots or pits, like the skin of an orange.
- Pain: You may have tenderness, sensitivity or pain in the breast tissue or underarm area. Instead, you may have a painless lump in the breast or armpit.
- Problems with the nipple: Clear fluid or bloody liquid may come out of the nipple. An inverted nipple can be another sign of breast cancer.
- Skin changes: Red, flaky or scaly skin may appear anywhere on the breast or nipple area. You may see ulcers on the skin.
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What Are The Treatments For Male Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer treatment depends on the type and stage of the disease. Your team of providers will discuss your options with you. Your medical history will help guide what treatment is best for you. Treatments include:
- Surgery: During breast cancer surgery, your provider removes as much of the tumor as possible. You may need a lumpectomy or a mastectomy . Because men have limited breast tissue, mastectomy is more commonly done. You may also need surgery to remove lymph nodes.
- Radiation: Your provider uses targeted radiation therapy to kill cancer cells. Radiation for breast cancer usually follows surgery .
- Chemotherapy : Your provider delivers chemotherapy drugs into a vein, usually through an infusion. You might also take oral chemotherapy pills . These medications kill cancer cells and stop them from multiplying. You may receive chemo treatments over several weeks or months.
- Hormone therapy : Your provider prescribes medications that affect your hormones. These drugs may lower levels of estrogen or block the effects of estrogen. Providers usually use hormone therapy to treat women with breast cancer, but it can be an effective treatment for men, too. These medications treat breast cancers that use hormones to grow. Hormone therapy can be given in the form of pills and/or injections.
- Medications: Several medications kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. Your provider will discuss these medications with you. These may include medications called targeted therapy.
Diagnosing Breast Cancer In Men
If you have symptoms of breast cancer, such as a hard, painless lump in one of your breasts, your GP will carefully examine you.
During the examination, they’ll also look for other possible signs of male breast cancer, such as swollen lymph nodes .
It’s likely your GP will refer you for further tests if there’s a possibility you may have breast cancer. These tests are described below.
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Family Members With Breast Cancer Or A Breast Cancer Gene
Men who have female relatives with breast cancer have an increased risk of breast cancer, especially if the women are close relatives . The risk also increases if the women were diagnosed at a young age . Men, as well as women, can inherit faulty genes that increase the risk of breast cancer.
Around 2 in 100 breast cancers diagnosed in women are thought to be due directly to an inherited faulty gene . In men, this might be more common. Doctors think that around 5 to 10 out of 100 breast cancers diagnosed in men are due to inherited faulty genes . In men with breast cancer, changes in the BRCA2 faulty gene are more common than BRCA1.
Treatments For Breast Cancer In Men
The treatment for breast cancer in men depends on how far the cancer has spread.
Possible treatments include:
- surgery to remove the affected breast tissue and nipple and some of the glands in your armpit
- radiotherapy where radiation is used to kill cancer cells
- chemotherapy where cancer medicine is used to kill cancer cells
- other medicines that help stop breast cancer growing including tamoxifen and trastuzumab
Many men have surgery followed by 1 or more of the other treatments. This can help stop the cancer coming back in the future.
Read more about treatments for breast cancer in men.
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Breast Pain And Tenderness
Breast pain and tenderness is very common and is usually not cancer. For people experiencing only breast pain, it is cancer in just 1 to 3 out of 100 people .
Cyclical breast pain comes and goes in relation to your period and is the most common kind of breast pain, affecting about 7 out of 10 people . It is a pattern of pain that typically occurs during the luteal phase with each menstrual cycle. Cyclical breast tenderness is a sign that ovulation has occurred and is typically experienced in the 5-10 days leading up to the start of a period, but goes away after the period starts . It is most often described as aching, heavy, and tender, but can also feel sharp or shooting .
Pain that is not cyclical could be due to something in the breast or ribcage like inflammation, infection, or injury, or could be a sign of cancer . Non-cyclical breast pain that is persistently in one spotâespecially if there is also a breast lumpâshould be evaluated by a healthcare provider .
What Are The Stages Of Male Breast Cancer
After diagnosing breast cancer, providers classify the disease using a process called staging. Providers measure the tumor and look at its location. They determine whether the tumor has spread to lymph nodes, surrounding breast tissue or other parts of your body. Lymph nodes are small organs that move fluid through the body and help protect you from illness.
To gather this information, your provider may order tests such as a sentinel node biopsy, PET scan or CT scan. These tests allow your cancer care team to determine the disease stage.
The stages of male breast cancer are:
Stage 0: Cancer cells are only in the ducts. Cancer has not spread to other breast tissue.
Stage I: The tumor is small and hasnt spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage II: One of these is true:
- The tumor is smaller than 20 millimeters and has spread to a few axillary lymph nodes. Axillary nodes are lymph nodes in the armpit.
- The tumor is 20 mm to 50 mm across and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes . Or the tumor is 20 mm to 50 mm and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes .
- The tumor is larger than 50 mm and has not spread to a few axillary lymph nodes.
Stage III: Cancer has spread typically to several lymph nodes. Cancer cells may also be in the chest wall or skin. It has not spread to other areas of the body away from the breast.
Stage IV: Cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body away from the breast. Cancer can spread to all areas of the body, including the lungs, bones, liver or brain.
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What Is Breast Cancer In Men
Breast cancer occurs mainly in women, but men can get it, too. Many people do not realize that men have breast tissue and that they can develop breast cancer. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer and can spread to other areas.
Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant if the cells can grow into surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body.
To learn more about how cancers start and spread, see Cancer Basics.
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men
Possible symptoms of breast cancer to watch for include:
- A lump or swelling, which is often painless
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge from the nipple
Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.
These changes aren’t always caused by cancer, but if you notice any breast changes, you should see a health care professional as soon as possible.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Burstein HJ, Harris JR, Morrow M. Ch. 79 – Malignant tumors of the breast. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’sCancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015.
Morrow M. Chapter 3: Physical Exam of the Breast. In: Harris JR, Lippman ME, Morrow M, Osborne CK, eds. Diseases of the Breast. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health 2014.
Wolff AC, Domchek SM, Davidson NE et al. Ch 91 – Cancer of the Breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloffs Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier: 2014.
Last Revised: April 27, 2018
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