How Is It Treated
The main treatment for male breast cancer is modified radical mastectomy, which is surgery to remove the breast and the lymph nodes under the arm .
There hasn’t been much research on breast cancer treatments in men, because male breast cancer is so uncommon. But breast cancer in men is similar to breast cancer in women, and some of the same treatments may be used. These include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.
Chemotherapy may be used after surgery to reduce the chance that breast cancer will come back somewhere else in the body. Most male breast cancer has estrogen and progesterone receptors. With this type of cancer, treatment may also include medicines, such as tamoxifen.
Should Men At Higher Risk For Breast Cancer Get Screening Mammograms
Men have less breast tissue than women and fewer than 1 percent of men develop breast cancer, so national cancer screening guidelines do not recommend regular screening mammograms for men. However, if a doctor suspects breast cancer, a diagnostic mammogram may be needed to look for malignant tumors.
However, when a man is determined to be at higher risk for breast cancer, it is recommended that he have an annual clinical breast exam to check for breast changes that could indicate breast cancer.
See This Checklist For Risk Factors For Hereditary Breast Cancer:
- Have you or any family member had breast cancer?
- Has Breast Cancer occurred in more than one relative on the same side of the family?
- Has any man in your family had breast cancer?
- Has Breast Cancer been diagnosed in you or a family member earlier than 50 years of age?
- Do you have an “Ashkenazi Jewish” heritage with a personal or family history of breast cancer?
- Does anyone in your family have a history of pancreatic, colon, early-age prostate cancer, or melanoma?
If you answered “yes” to any or most of these questions, we suggest you meet with a genetics counselor to understand your cancer risk. Education is an important tool in prevention.
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How To Check For Male Breast Cancer
Because men are less likely to receive a mammogram, it’s important to learn how to perform a male self-breast examination. As a patient, it’s imperative to become familiar with your body so you can advocate for yourself and notice when changes occur. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to self-check your breasts at home:
You can also check your breasts while lying down. To do this, set a pillow underneath your right shoulder and bend your right arm over your head. Use the fingertips of your left hand to check all areas of your breast and armpit. Once you’re finished, switch the pillow to your left shoulder and repeat this process.
If you’re uncomfortable doing a self-breast examination, or you fear that you’re not doing it correctly, ask your physician to perform a clinical breast exam for you. Depending on how the examination goes, your physician may order a mammogram, an ultrasound, or an MRI.
Problems When You Pee
Many men have some problems peeing as they get older, like:
- A need to pee more often, especially at night
- Dribbling, leaking, or an urgent need to go
- Trouble starting to pee, or a weak stream
- A burning sensation when they pee
An enlarged prostate gland usually causes these symptoms, but so can prostate cancer. See your doctor to check on the cause of the problem. Theyll give you an exam to look for an enlarged prostate, and they may talk to you about a blood test for prostate cancer.
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Treating Breast Cancer In Men
Treatment for breast cancer in men largely depends on how far the cancer has spread.
Most hospitals use multidisciplinary teams to treat men with breast cancer. These are teams of specialists who work together to make decisions about the best way to proceed with your treatment.
Before visiting hospital to discuss your treatment options, you may find it useful to write a list of questions you’d like to ask the specialist. For example, you could ask about the advantages and disadvantages of particular treatments.
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.
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How Is Male Breast Cancer Diagnosed
To check out a lump or thickening in the breast or armpit, tests such as a mammogram or ultrasound may be done. If either of these tests show signs of cancer, a biopsy will likely be done to know for sure if there is cancer.
Because there is no routine screening for male breast cancer and a breast lump does not usually cause pain, sometimes breast cancer isn’t discovered until it has spread to another area of the body and is causing other symptoms.
Family History Of Breast Cancer And Breast Cancer Risk In Men
Men who have a strong family history of breast cancer, such as mother and/or sister diagnosed at age 40 or younger, have a higher than average risk of breast cancer .
If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk with your provider about whether genetic counseling and genetic testing may be right for you.
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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.
Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer In Men
The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump .
However, any change in the breast, chest area or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer in men, including :
- Lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast, chest or underarm area
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin of the breast
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge
These symptoms may also be signs of a benign breast condition.
Men tend to have much less breast tissue compared to women. So, some of these signs can be easier to notice in men than in women.
If you notice any of these signs or other changes in your breast or nipple, see a health care provider right away.
Learn about benign breast conditions in men.
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Living With Male Breast Cancer
The process to diagnose and treat cancer can be long and frustrating. Most treatments are invasive and cause side effects. Medicine help counter these, but effects can be long lasting. You likely will need to make changes to your lifestyle.
After treatment, your cancer may subside. Remission can be brief or permanent. Cancer survivors usually require ongoing care. This can include testing and treatment to monitor and manage their health.
Living with cancer is emotional. You might consider joining a support group. Your doctor also might suggest rehabilitation to help with physical and life changes.
Having a male family member with breast cancer is a trigger for genetic testing and counseling. After receiving your diagnosis, a genetic counselor can help you determine if members of your family should be tested for mutations in the BRCA gene. Abnormalities in the BRCA gene cause forms of breast and ovarian cancer.
Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
You eat pretty well and get regular exercise . But if youre like a lot of men, a trip to the doctor isn’t on your to-do list. That can be bad if it means you brush off early signs of cancer.
One of the best ways to fight the disease is to catch it in the early stages, when its more treatable. The problem is that the warning signs for many kinds of cancer can seem pretty mild.
Take a look at these 15 signs and symptoms. Some are linked more strongly to cancer than others, but all are worth knowing about — and even talking over with your doctor.
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What To Do If You Find A Lump
Dont panic if you think you feel a lump in your breast. Most women have some lumps or lumpy areas in their breasts all the time, and most breast lumps turn out to be benign . There are a number of possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps, including normal hormonal changes, a benign breast condition, or an injury.
Dont hesitate to call your doctor if youve noticed a lump or other breast change that is new and worrisome. This is especially true for changes that last more than one full menstrual cycle or seem to get bigger or more prominent in some way. If you menstruate, you may want to wait until after your period to see if the lump or other breast change disappears on its own before calling your doctor. The best healthcare provider to call would be one who knows you and has done a breast exam on you before for example, your gynecologist, primary care doctor, or a nurse practitioner who works with your gynecologist or primary care doctor.
Make sure you get answers. Its important that your doctor gives you an explanation of the cause of the lump or other breast change and, if necessary, a plan for monitoring it or treating it. If youre not comfortable with the advice of the first doctor you see, dont hesitate to get a second opinion.
So Do Men Get Breast Cancer
So many people assume breast cancer affects women only. Breast cancer affects both men and women, because men and women both have breast tissue. About 1 in 700 men are diagnosed with breast cancer* in Australia. If you are a man or are reading this and have men in your life – it is important to make them always aware and let them know that if there are any new and unusual changes to their breasts – they should be aware and seek attention.
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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.
Brca2 Inherited Gene Mutations And Cancer Risk
Men who have a BRCA2 inherited gene mutation, and to a lesser degree men who have a BRCA1 inherited gene mutation, have an increased risk of breast cancer .
For example, the lifetime risk of breast cancer is :
- About 50-80 in 1,000 men with a BRCA2 inherited gene mutation
- About 12 in 1,000 men with a BRCA1 inherited gene mutation
- About 1 in 769 men in the general population
Men who have a BRCA1/2 gene mutation also have an increased risk for prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and melanoma .
Other inherited gene mutations are under study for a possible link to breast cancer in men .
Learn more about BRCA2 inherited gene mutations and cancer risk in men.
For a summary of research studies on BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutations and cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.
BRCA2 inherited gene mutations and genetic testing
While 5-10 percent of breast cancers in women are thought to be due to inherited gene mutations, up to 40 percent of breast cancers in men may be related to BRCA2 inherited gene mutations alone . This means men who get breast cancer are more likely to have an inherited gene mutation than women who get breast cancer.
Your health care provider can recommend a genetic counselor so you can learn more about genetic testing.
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What To Expect At The Breast Clinic
Your visit to the breast clinic may take several hours.
You can take a partner, close friend or relative with you for company or support. Some people prefer to go on their own.
A doctor or specialist nurse will ask you about your symptoms
You may be asked to fill in a short questionnaire including questions about any family history of breast problems and any medication youre taking.
You will have an examination
The doctor or nurse will check the breast tissue on both sides. As part of the examination its usual to examine the lymph nodes under your arm and around your neck.
You may need further tests
These will usually include one or more of the following:
- A mammogram
- An ultrasound scan
- A core biopsy of the breast tissue and sometimes lymph nodes
- A fine needle aspiration of the breast tissue and sometimes lymph nodes
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.
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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
What Can I Do To Reduce My Risk
If several members of your family have had breast or ovarian cancer, or one of your family members has a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, share this information with your doctor. Your doctor may refer you for genetic counseling. In men, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase the risk of breast cancer, high-grade prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
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What Are The Types Of Male Breast Cancer
Breast cancer in men usually begins in the breast ducts. Ducts are tubes that carry milk to the nipple. Although men have milk ducts and glands that create milk, they dont work like the ducts and milk-producing glands in women.
The types of male breast cancer include:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma: Cancer begins in the breast ducts and spreads to other parts of the breast. Cancer cells may also spread to other areas of the body. Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer in people regardless of gender.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: Cancer begins in the lobules . Lobular breast cancer can also spread to other parts of the body.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ : Cancer cells grow in the lining of the breast ducts. They have not spread to other parts of the breast or the rest of the body. Ductal carcinoma in situ is uncommon in men.
- Inflammatory breast cancer: Usually a type of invasive ductal carcinoma, inflammatory breast cancer is very rare in men. The breast tissue is swollen and red. It feels warm to the touch, and the skin may be dimpled, but there is no lump.
- Pagets disease of the nipple: Cancer cells grow in the ducts and spread to the nipple and the area around the nipple. Pagets disease of the nipple is also called Pagets disease of the breast or mammary Paget disease.