A Family History Of Breast Cancer And Other Factors Can Increase A Man’s Risk Of Breast Cancer
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer not having risk factors doesnt mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for breast cancer in men may include the following:
- Treatment with radiation therapy to your breast/chest.
- Having a disease linked to high levels ofestrogen in the body, such ascirrhosis or Klinefelter syndrome .
- Having one or more female relatives who have had breast cancer.
- Having mutations in genes such as BRCA2.
If You Have Breast Cancer
If youre diagnosed with breast cancer youll be told if it is early breast cancer, also known as primary breast cancer, or if breast cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body, known as secondary or metastatic breast cancer.
Youll also be given more detailed information that will help your specialist team decide which treatments to recommend.
Youll be introduced to a breast care nurse who will talk to you about your diagnosis and treatment. They will offer you support and written information and can be a point of contact throughout your treatment and afterwards.
To find out more about the information and support we can offer, call our Helpline on 0808 800 6000.
When youre a man with breast cancer, it can be hard to find people who understand. Thats why theres a space just for men on our online discussion Forum. Its a confidential area where you can share tips and information, and talk about whats on your mind, with other men who really get it.
Risk Factors You Can Change
Being physically active can help lower your risk of getting breast cancer.
- Not being physically active. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Being overweight or having obesity after menopause. Older women who are overweight or have obesity have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
- Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
- Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
- Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a womans risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
Research suggests that other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer, and changes in other hormones due to night shift working also may increase breast cancer risk.
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How Is Male Breast Cancer Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine your breast tissue, paying close attention to any lumps or abnormalities. Your provider may take a sample of your blood and send it to a lab.
To look for cancer cells in breast tissue, your provider may do a biopsy. Using a thin needle, your provider removes a sample of the breast tissue and sends it to a lab. The lab tests the tissue for cancer cells.
To see pictures of your breast tissue, your provider may order imaging studies. These include:
- Mammogram: A mammogram is an X-ray of breast tissue.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to see images of soft tissues.
- MRI: An MRI produces images of breast tissue using a high-powered magnet and radio waves.
What Causes Breast Lumps
As part of understanding what type of lumps occur in the breasts, its useful to know why they occur in the first place. In addition to cancer, there are several other reasons lumps might appear. Breast lumps are very common, especially for women in their teens and 20s because thats when significant hormonal changes are occurring, says Dr. Grumley. And women in their mid-30s to age 50 are more prone to cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs in the breast.
Although its not yet known why breast cysts form, she adds that hormones are believed to play a major role there, too. Other causes include , benign growths called fibroadenomas and fatty deposits called lipomas. There are also lymph nodes or glands, which are part of the lymphatic system that runs throughout the body, including in the chest and armpits. Because theyre involved with the immune response, these glands filter potentially harmful substances, and can become inflamed if you have an infection. When that happens, it may cause a temporary lump or series of lumps.
Both benign and can happen anywhere in the breast, Dr. Grumley says, including or higher up on the chest.
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Outlook For Breast Cancer In Men
The outlook for breast cancer in men varies depending on how far it has spread by the time it’s diagnosed.
It may be possible to cure breast cancer if it’s found early.
A cure is much less likely if the cancer is found after it has spread beyond the breast. In these cases, treatment can relieve your symptoms and help you live longer.
Speak to your breast care nurse if you’d like to know more about the outlook for your cancer.
Deterrence And Patient Education
Routine screening of males with breast cancer is not established due to the rarity of occurrence. Yet, males should be educated on the potential risk factors discussed and be advised on genetic counseling if they have a family history of breast cancer or other cancers that may be triggered by a BRCA gene, for example, ovarian, pancreatic, testicular, or prostate cancers.
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Classifying Breast Cancer Based On Hormone Receptors And Her2 Status
Doctors often divide invasive breast cancers into groups based on the presence of hormone receptors and whether or not the cancer has too much HER2.
Hormone receptor-positive: If the breast cancer cells contain either estrogen or progesterone receptors, they can be called hormone receptor-positive . Breast cancers in men that are hormone receptor-positive can be treated with hormone therapy drugs that lower estrogen levels, block estrogen receptors, or affect androgen levels . This includes cancers that are ER-negative but PR-positive. Hormone receptor-positive cancers tend to grow more slowly than those that are hormone receptor-negative . Patients with these cancers tend to have a better outlook in the short-term, but cancers that are hormone receptor- positive can sometimes come back many years after treatment. About 9 out of 10 male breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive.
Hormone receptor-negative: If the breast cancer cells dont have either estrogen or progesterone receptors, they are said to be hormone receptor-negative . Treatment with hormone therapy drugs is not helpful for these cancers. These cancers tend to grow more quickly than hormone receptor-positive cancers. If they return after treatment, it is more often in the first few years.
HER2 positive: Cancers that have too much HER2 protein or gene are called HER2 positive. These cancers can be treated with drugs that target HER2.
Types Of Breast Cancer
Most breast cancers start in the ducts or lobes and are called ductal carcinomas or lobular carcinomas:
Ductal carcinoma. These cancers start in the cells lining the milk ducts. Most breast cancers are ductal carcinomas.
Ductal carcinoma in situ . This non-invasive cancer is located only in the duct. This is uncommon in male breast cancer.
Invasive or infiltrating ductal carcinoma . This is cancer that has spread outside of the duct. Most male breast cancer have invasive ductal carcinoma.
Lobular carcinoma.This starts in the lobules. It is uncommon in male breast cancer.
Lobular carcinoma in situ . LCIS is located only in the lobules. LCIS is not considered cancer. However, LCIS is a risk factor for developing invasive breast cancer in either breast .
Invasive lobular carcinoma . This is cancer that has spread outside the lobules.
Other less common types of breast cancer include:
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Are You A Man Who Has Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
Many people are surprised to learn that men can develop breast cancer. Fortunately, breast cancer in men is rare and it accounts for less than 1% of all cancers in men.
The good news is that most men survive breast cancer. In Australia, 85% of men diagnosed with breast cancer are alive five years later. Most men fully recover and the breast cancer does not return.
Men of all ages can be affected by breast cancer, however, the average age of diagnosis is 69.
Paget Disease Of The Nipple
This type of breast cancer starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the nipple. It may also spread to the areola . The skin of the nipple usually appears crusted, scaly, and red, with areas of itching, oozing, burning, or bleeding. There may also be an underlying lump in the breast.
Paget disease may be associated with DCIS or with infiltrating ductal carcinoma. It is rare and accounts for about 1-3% of female breast cancers and a higher percentage of male breast cancers.
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Does Stress Cause Breast Cancer
They have found no evidence that those who are more stressed are more likely to get cancer. Some people wonder whether stress causes breast cancer. But overall, the evidence for this has been poor. And a large study of over 100,000 women in the UK in 2016 showed no consistent evidence between stress and breast cancer.
How Breast Cancer Spreads
Breast cancer can spread when the cancer cells get into the blood or lymph system and are carried to other parts of the body.
The lymph system is a network of lymph vessels found throughout the body. The lymph vessels carry lymph fluid and connect lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped collections of immune system cells. Lymph vessels are like small veins, except that they carry a clear fluid called lymph away from the breast. Lymph contains tissue fluid and waste products, as well as immune system cells. Breast cancer cells can enter lymph vessels and start to grow in lymph nodes. Most of the lymph vessels of the breast drain into:
- Lymph nodes under the arm
- Lymph nodes around the collar bone
- Lymph nodes inside the chest near the breast bone
If the cancer cells have spread to your lymph nodes, there is a higher chance that the cells could have also traveled through the lymph system and spread to other parts of your body. The more lymph nodes with breast cancer cells, the more likely it is that the cancer may be found in other organs. Because of this, finding cancer in one or more lymph nodes often affects your treatment plan. Usually, surgery to remove one or more lymph nodes will be needed to know whether the cancer has spread.
Still, not all men with cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases to other areas, and some men can have no cancer cells in their lymph nodes and later develop metastases.
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When To See Your Doctor
It is very unlikely that you have breast cancer, but it’s best to see your doctor and get your symptoms checked if you have:
- a lump in your breast
- any other worrying symptoms, such as nipple discharge
- a history of breast or ovarian cancer in members of your family and you’re worried about your chances of getting it
Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have and may examine your breast. Based on this information, they can refer you for tests, scans, or to a cancer specialist to check for breast cancer or other health problems. Other health conditions can cause symptoms similar to breast cancer, and it is important for your doctor to rule out any other reasons for a health problem before making a breast cancer diagnosis.
Dont delay going to the doctor until you have more severe symptoms, like bleeding from the nipple. At that point, the cancer may have already spread.
Does Alcohol Cause Breast Cancer
Breast cancer: Drinking even small amounts of alcohol is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women. Alcohol can raise estrogen levels in the body, which may explain some of the increased risk. Avoiding or cutting back on alcohol may be an important way for many women to lower their risk of breast cancer.
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Risk Factors For Breast Cancer In Men
Perhaps the greatest breast cancer risk factor for men is simply a lack of awareness. Thanks to the myth that only women get breast cancer and a stigma about accepting men have breast tissue, few men regularly examine themselves for lumps or take time becoming familiar with their normal breast anatomyThe study of the bodily structures and internal organs..
Men also suffer more commonly from a condition called Gynecomastia. The symptoms of gynecomastiaWhen a breast tissue in a man or boy becomes swollen. are easily confused with male breast cancer, particularly the appearance of breast lumps. This can lead to confusion and misdiagnosis.
Besides the risk of going undiagnosed, the most obvious risk factorAnything that increases or decreases a persons chance of developing a disease. for male breast cancer is increasing age, with men aged 60-70 most at risk. Like women, alcohol usage, , high levels of and family history of breast cancer are also risk factorsAnything that increases or decreases a persons chance of developing a disease. for men. A male-only illness called Klinefelters syndrome is another rare geneticInherited characteristics. factor which can put men more at risk of developing breast cancer.
If Cancer Is Found Tests Are Done To Study The Cancer Cells
- How quickly the cancer may grow.
- How likely it is that the cancer will spread through the body.
- How well certain treatments might work.
- How likely the cancer is to recur .
Tests include the following:
- Estrogen and progesterone receptor test: A test to measure the amount of estrogen and progesterone receptors in cancer tissue. If there are more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal, the cancer is called estrogen and/or progesterone receptor positive. This type of breast cancer may grow more quickly. The test results show whether treatment to block estrogen and progesterone may stop the cancer from growing.
- HER2 test: A laboratory test to measure how many HER2/neu genes there are and how much HER2/neu protein is made in a sample of tissue. If there are more HER2/neu genes or higher levels of HER2/neu protein than normal, the cancer is called HER2/neu positive. This type of breast cancer may grow more quickly and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body. The cancer may be treated with drugs that target the HER2/neu protein, such as trastuzumab and pertuzumab.
Coping With A Diagnosis
Being told you have breast cancer can cause a wide range of emotions, such as shock, fear, confusion and, in some cases, embarrassment.
Feelings of isolation are also common. This may be because there’s little in the way of information and advice for men with breast cancer.
Speak to your GP or care team if you’re struggling to come to terms with your diagnosis. They can offer support and advice.
You may also find it useful to talk to other men with the condition. Cancer Research UK has Cancer Chat, an online forum for anyone affected by cancer.
Page last reviewed: 18 March 2020 Next review due: 18 March 2023
Check Yourself For Male Breast Cancer
How to Check Yourself for Male Breast Cancer Male Breast Self-Exam
1. Check each breast one at a time.
2. Use your right hand fingers to check
your left breast, and your left hand
fingers to check your right breast.
3. With your fingers flat against the
breast press firmly in small, clockwise circles.
4. Start at the outermost top edge of your breast
and spiral towards the nipple.
5. Feel for hard lumps or bumps in your breast.
6. Be certain to cover all parts of your breast.
7. Gently squeeze both nipples and look for any discharge.
8. Look carefully for changes in the size, shape,
and contour of each breast, e.g., puckering,
dimpling, or changes in skin texture.When is the best time to perform the MBSE?
During or right after a warm shower or bath
Warm, soapy water relaxes and smoothes the skin,
making the MBSE easier to perform
Remember to do the MBSE once a month
What are the symptoms?
A hard, painless lump in the breast tissue
Pain in the breast
Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
Discharge from the nipple
However, remember that most breast lumps in men are due to gynecomastia and not cancer.
SYMPTOMS DIAGNOSIS SELF-CARE
1. Are you between the ages of 10 and 25 and have swelling under the nipple? Hormone changes of adolescence may bring about GYNECOMASTIA, benign swelling of the male breast. Gynecomastia is usually benign and lasts for a few months. See your doctor if youre concerned or if the mass keeps growing.
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Brca Genes And The Shortcomings Of Genetic Testing
Studies of families with an exceptionally large number of members with breast and ovarian cancer led to the discovery of the first two inherited breast cancer susceptibility genes. By searching for genetic markers shared by all affected family members , researchers in the 1990s were able to pinpoint two breast cancer susceptibility genes, and . Both genes are rare, but they confer very high risk. Both genes code for proteins that are thought to play a role in the repair of genetic defects, and therefore mutations that decrease their ability to repair or limit the proliferation of cells with genetic defects will increase the susceptibility to breast cancer.
Initial studies suggested that women who tested positive for either mutation would have nearly a 90 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70. A recent study found that Ashkenazi Jewish women who carry one of the three and mutations associated with Ashkenazi ancestry and who reach age 80 have an 82 percent risk of developing breast cancer those who reach age 60 have a 55 percent risk.
As Wylie Burke and Melissa Austin summarize in an editorial in the Journal of the National Institute: