Why Does The Myth Exist
Although men can develop breast cancer too, it is still relatively rare and women are at a far greater risk. In fact, the American Cancer Society says, Breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than among women. Why is this? Nobody is entirely sure, although a common theory is that simply by having more breast tissue, women have a greater mass in which to develop cancerous cells so are inevitably at higher risk. Women also tend to have much higher levels of estrogenA female sex hormone that is primarily produced by the ovaries. Its primary function is to regulate the menstrual cycle and assist in the production of secondary sex characteristics such as breasts. It may even play a role in the production of cancer cells in the breast tissue. which could well be a contributory factor.
Unfortunately, because breast cancer in men is not common, studies into it are also infrequent. Until this area of research develops further it is unlikely that we will get a more accurate answer to why men are less susceptibleThe state or fact of being likely or liable to be influenced or harmed by a particular thing. to breast cancer than women.
Post updated on May 14, 2020.
Genetic Testing In Men With Or At Risk For Breast Cancer
Breast cancer in men is sometimes caused by inherited mutations in certain genes. You can inherit gene mutations from your mother or your father and can potentially pass them on to your sons and daughters.
The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 1% for men who have a BRCA1 gene mutation and 7-8% for men who have a BRCA2 gene mutation, compared to a risk of 0.1% for men in the general population. Mutations in the ATM, CHEK2, PALB2, and other genes are also associated with breast cancer in men, but more research is needed to understand the specific risks from those genes.
According to guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, all men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer should be offered genetic counseling and genetic testing for genetic mutations linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.
Men who havent been diagnosed with breast cancer but who have a family history of breast, ovarian, pancreatic, or prostate cancer, or who have a family member who was found to have an inherited gene mutation that increases the risk of cancer, should also consider getting genetic testing.
Here are some of the reasons its useful for you and your medical team to know if you have a gene mutation linked to a higher risk of breast cancer:
How Is Male Breast Cancer Treated
No prospective studies have been done of male breast cancer. Management is extrapolated from female breast cancer and from case series in single institutions. Local surgical management is modified radical mastectomy , with postoperative radiation for bulky tumour, involved or close margins, clinically positive nodes, or inflammatory carcinoma.
Men usually are offered adjuvant hormone therapy with tamoxifen 20 mg/day for five years, as several retrospective studies have shown improved survival. If the tumour has adverse features, adjuvant systemic therapy should be offered. Experience of using adjuvant aromatase inhibitors in men is limited. The management of metastatic and recurrent disease is similar to that in women.
Men are less likely to be diagnosed as having breast cancer at an early stage, but diagnosis at the preinvasive stage has increased since the 1980s, perhaps owing to the heightened awareness of patients and clinicians.
When men and women are matched for tumour stage and histology, no sex difference is found in tumour specific survival. Overall survival is shorter in men, possibly because they tend to be older and have more comorbid conditions.
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Yes Men Can Get Breast Cancer
Stay up to date with the latest medical news and research at UHealth.
The first time Antonio Becerra felt a lump in his breast, he didnt give it a second thought. The last thing he was worried about was breast cancer. But when he went to his doctor for an ankle injury, he remembered to mention it which was a smart thing to do.
After an ultrasound and a biopsy, Becerra, a father of two who lives in Sunrise, received a diagnosis he hadnt expected. I thought, really? Really!! he says. Now, more than four years later. I hadnt thought men could get breast cancer.
Breast cancer in men is very rare.
It accounts for about one percent of all cases in the U.S. and only one in a 1,000 men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer. About 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, estimates the American Cancer Society.
Because you dont hear about it, men dont think it can happen to them, says Dr. Alejandra Tobon Perez, a breast oncologist at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. It they find a lump, they dont think twice about it.
Yet, the mortality rate for men with breast cancer is much higher than for women. The main problem is the late detection, adds Dr. Perez, who is also director of the Breast Cancer Program at Sylvester-Plantation. Theyre not doing mammograms. Theyre not doing self-checks. By the time we see them the disease is advanced.
A new study, published in JAMA Oncology, bears this out:
What are the symptoms?
Whats The Difference Male Breast Cancer And Female Breast Cancer
Despite outward appearances, breasts in men and women are built very much the same. Human breasts in both sexes have nipples, fatty tissue, breast cells and ducts. Men and women also share some of the same risk factors for breast cancer. Both genders may have inherited mutations in their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that may increase cancer risk. And both genders produce the hormone estrogen, which at certain levels may increase breast cancer risk. So why do so few men get breast cancer?
In general, the incidence of breast cancer in men is far less than in women because although the breast tissue in both are similar, male breast tissue is mainly fat and fibrous tissue called stroma and they have fewer ducts and lobules, says Sramila Aithal, MD, Hematologist & Medical Oncologist at our Philadelphia hospital. When womens breasts mature during puberty, they develop working lobules and milk ducts to produce and carry milk after childbirth. Most breast cancers in women develop in those ducts and lobules. Most men produce far fewer and smaller ducts and may not produce lobules. Inherited gene mutations may increase cancer risk in both sexes, but are likely to affect genders differently. While BRCA mutations significantly increase a mans risk of breast cancer, men with those mutations are at a higher risk of prostate cancer more than breast or other cancers.
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Clinical Trials Of Screening For Men Who Have Brca1/2 Inherited Gene Mutations
Men who have a BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutation are encouraged to join a clinical trial looking at new screening methods or more frequent screening for men at higher risk of breast cancer .
Susan G. Komen® Breast Care Helpline
If you or a loved one needs information or resources about clinical trials, call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN or email .
Se habla español.
BreastCancerTrials.org in collaboration with Susan G. Komen® offers a custom matching service to help you find clinical trials on breast cancer screening and clinical trials for people who have a BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutation.
Learn more about clinical trials.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
Where Breast Cancer Starts
Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple . Some start in the glands that make breast milk . Men have these ducts and glands, too, even though they aren’t normally functional. There are also types of breast cancer that start in other types of breast cells, but these are less common.
Although many types of breast cancer can cause a lump in the breast, not all do. There are other symptoms of breast cancer you should watch for and report to a health care provider.
Its also important to understand that most breast lumps are benign and not cancer . Benign breast tumors are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside of the breast and they are not life threatening. Any breast lump or change needs to be checked by a health care provider to determine whether it is benign or malignant and whether it might impact your future cancer risk.
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After Breast Cancer Has Been Diagnosed Tests Are Done To Find Out If Cancer Cells Have Spread Within The Breast Or To Other Parts Of The Body
After breast cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancercells have spread within the breast or to other parts of the body. This process is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. Breast cancer in men is staged the same as it is in women. The spread of cancer from the breast tolymph nodes and other parts of the body appears to be similar in men and women.
The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Male Breast Cancer
If you notice any symptoms of breast cancer, call your provider right away. Its essential to see your provider for an evaluation as early as possible. Early detection and treatment can greatly improve the prognosis.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Many men dont think breast cancer can happen to them. So they may not recognize signs when they appear. If you think something isnt right with your chest tissue, see your provider for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment can have a significant impact on the long-term prognosis. Be honest with your provider about your symptoms and how long youve had them. If you have any risk factors for male breast cancer, talk to your provider about how you can reduce your risk.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/15/2021.
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Types Of Breast Cancer In Men
The most common types of breast cancer are ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive ductal carcinoma, and invasive lobular carcinoma.
Most breast cancers are carcinomas. In fact, breast cancers are often a type of carcinoma called adenocarcinoma, which starts in cells that make glands . Breast adenocarcinomas start in the ducts or the lobules .
There are other, less common, types of breast cancers, too, such as sarcomas, phyllodes, Pagets disease and angiosarcomas which start in the cells of the muscle, fat, or connective tissue.
Sometimes a single breast tumor can be a combination of different types. And in some very rare types of breast cancer, the cancer cells may not form a lump or tumor at all.
When a biopsy is done to find out the specific type of breast cancer, the pathologist also will say if the cancer has spread in to the surrounding tissues. The name of the breast cancer type will change depending on the extent of the cancer.
- In situ breast cancers have not spread.
- Invasive or infiltrating cancers have spread into the surrounding breast tissue.
These general kinds of breast cancer can be further described with the terms outlined above.
What Is Male Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer is a type of cancer that grows in a mans breast tissue. Although male breasts cant produce milk, they do have fatty tissue, ducts and breast cells. Breast tissue in men is similar to young girls breast tissue before they start puberty. Cancer develops when cells in these tissues grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor.
Treatment for male breast cancer includes chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, hormone therapy and targeted therapy. The outlook depends on the tumors size and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
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Dont Delay Seeing A Health Care Provider
Some men may be embarrassed about a change in their breast or chest area, or may not know its important, and put off seeing a health care provider. This may result in a delay in diagnosis. Survival is highest when breast cancer is found early and treated.
If you notice any of the warning signs above or other changes in your breast, chest area or nipple, see a health care provider right away.
If you dont have a health care provider, one of the best ways to find a good one is to get a referral from a trusted family member or friend.
If thats not an option, call your health department, a clinic or a nearby hospital. If you have insurance, your insurance company may have a list of health care providers in your area.
Yes Men Do Get Breast Cancer
There is a lot of awareness around breast cancer in women and rightly so, as it is one of the top female cancers in South Africa and carries a lifetime risk of one in 25.
However, there is a distinct lack of awareness of the fact that men can also get breast cancer. While the risk is significantly lower and incidences are rare, it is in fact becoming more common.
The issue is that it is often diagnosed late, because men simply do not think that they could have breast cancer, which increases the mortality rate and has implications on treatment.
Men need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and ensure that they have the right medical and gap cover in place to protect them from financial hardship.
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How To Treat Male Breast Cancer
If youâre diagnosed with male breast cancer, your treatment plan will depend on how far the cancer has spread. Practicing monthly self-breast exams, in addition to receiving a breast examination by your physician, could improve your chances of detecting breast abnormalities early. Early detection is the key to successful treatment.
Possible treatments for male breast cancer include:
- Testicular conditions
âUnfortunately, there isnât anything you can do to prevent male breast cancer,â says Nicholas Jones, MD, FACS. âHowever, you can lower your risks by being active, and limiting your alcohol consumption.â
In addition, avoiding hormonal supplements, such as sexual performance enhancement supplements, may help to prevent male breast cancer. According to a 2019 study, the use of hormonal male enhancement supplements can lead to the higher levels of androgens, which may cause the growth of tumors.
Can Men Get Breast Cancer
Many people dont know that men can get breast cancer because they dont think of men as having breasts. But men do have a small amount of breast tissue.
Breast cancer in men is cancer that starts in this small amount of breast tissue.
Breast cancer in men is very rare. Around 370 men are diagnosed each year in the UK.
Most men who get breast cancer are over 60, although younger men can be affected.
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Diagnosing Male Breast Cancer
Diagnosis male breast cancer starts with providing a complete personal and family medical history, describing your symptoms and being examined by your doctor.
After that, you may have screening with one of a few possible technologies, including a diagnostic mammogram, a breast ultrasound, a magnetic resonance imaging scan and/or possibly a test to study your nipple discharge.
Your doctor may also test your blood chemistry to look for unusual amounts of a substance that might suggest disease.
If your diagnostic tests show you may have cancer, the next step is a biopsy. A variety of different biopsies can involve removing cells through a needle, including fine-needle aspiration or core needle biopsy, or removing the whole lump or part of the suspicious area through surgery.
If cancer is found, additional tests will help your doctor know how quickly it may grow, how likely it is to spread or recur and what treatments may be the most appropriate.
Those would include:
- An estrogen and progesterone receptor test that measure the amount of these receptors in the cancer
- A HER2 test to measure the presence and level of HER2 protein
Men tend to be diagnosed with breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative.
The spread of cancer from breast to lymph nodes and other parts of the body in men appears to be similar to what women experience.
The stage of breast cancer is determined by your care team based on:
Sharing Your Diagnosis With Others
You might find it difficult to tell others about your diagnosis. If so, it can be helpful to start by telling your family and close friends first. This will help you become familiar with peoples responses and reactions. As breast cancer in men is rare, you may find that people want to ask you questions. You may like to have a few answers prepared.
Many people who are diagnosed with cancer find that it affects their friendships. Sadly, this usually happens when friends and family dont know how to cope with the news. Sometimes, a person you thought would be there for you will respond by stepping back. At other times, the opposite happens, and people who you do not have regular contact with you may respond by making contact and offering help. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to respond to breast cancer. Just find what works for you, your family and your friends.
Seek out support that is available to you like family, friends, doctors and nurses. Ask lots of questions and get as much information as you can to understand the disease. I found reading online forums, books and pamphlets helpful. Matthew
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