Treatment Of Breast Cancer In Men
If you are diagnosed with male breast cancer, the treatment that is recommended for you will depend on many different factors, including the type of breast cancer that you have, the extent of cancer spread, your health and personal preferences.
Treatment options for men with breast cancer include:
How Is Breast Cancer In Men Diagnosed
Your doctor will begin to make a diagnosis by asking about your symptoms, whether you have taken or are currently taking certain medications associated with breast cancer, and whether you have any other known risk factors. A breast exam is also an important part of diagnosis. Your doctor will visually examine and feel your chest/breasts for signs of breast cancer.
Additional tests are required for diagnosis. Your doctor may order imaging tests such as a mammogram, ultrasound, or a magnetic resonance imaging study of the affected breast. But to make a definitive diagnosis, a biopsy of the breast tissue is necessary. In this procedure, a small piece of breast tissue is removed, usually with a needle . A pathologist will analyze the tissue sample to check for the presence of cancer cells, and, if they are present, their hormone receptor and HER2 status.
If the biopsy confirms a diagnosis of breast cancer, your doctor will order more tests to see whether the cancer has spread beyond the breast. This is known as staging. It may involve additional imaging tests such as a chest X-ray, positron emission tomography , or a bone scan. In some cases, a sentinel lymph node biopsy is necessary.
Once your doctor has determined the size and type of tumor and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, he or she will assign the cancer to a stage. Staging helps doctors make a prognosis and design a patient-specific treatment plan.
What Is The Outlook For Men With Breast Cancer
The prognosis for men who have breast cancer depends on the tumors size and if it has spread. These are reflected in the cancer stage. In general, a higher stage indicates a worse prognosis. Early diagnosis can improve the outlook significantly. But because men dont get regular breast cancer screenings like women, the first sign of cancer is usually a lump. By that time, the cancer has often spread to the lymph nodes or other areas of the body.
Healthcare providers measure cancer outlook by the five-year survival rate. Overall, the survival rate for male breast cancer is 84%. The survival rate for men with breast cancer that has not spread beyond the original tumor is 97%. For men with cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, the survival rate is about 22%.
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Men Are More Likely To Be Diagnosed With A Later Stage Cancer
Breast cancer can be symptomless in the early stages yet the earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the better the prognosiswhich is why women are encouraged to get routine mammograms and perform regular self-exams at home. However, cancers that can be felt or seen from the outside have often progressed more than those that can be detected by a mammogram which means more men are diagnosed at later stages of the disease when it can be harder to treat, Dr. OHea says.
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Causes Of Breast Lumps
Lumps in the breasts can have lots of different causes.
They’re often caused by something harmless like a non-cancerous tissue growth or a build-up of fluid .
Sometimes, a breast lump can be a sign of something serious like breast cancer.
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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.
How To Diagnose Breast Cancer In Men
This article was co-authored by Joshua Ellenhorn, MD. Joshua Ellenhorn, MD, is a board certified surgeon with advanced training in the fields of surgical oncology, minimally invasive surgery, and robotic surgery. He runs a private practice at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California and is a nationally recognized leader in surgery, cancer research, and surgical education. Dr. Ellenhorn has trained more than 60 surgical oncologists and has spent over 18 years in practice at the City of Hope National Medical Center, where he was a professor and the chief of the Division of General and Oncologic Surgery. Dr. Ellenhorn performs the following surgical procedures: gallbladder surgery, hernia repair, colorectal cancer, skin cancer and melanoma, gastric cancer, and pancreatic cancer. He earned an MD from the Boston University School of Medicine, completed fellowships at the University of Chicago and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and finished his residency in surgery at the University of Cincinnati. This article has been viewed 17,618 times.
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Should Men At Higher Risk For Breast Cancer Get Screening Mammograms
Breast cancer is rare in men and according to the National Cancer Institute, screening is unlikely to be beneficial. Men who are higher risk for breast cancer, such as those who have BRCA mutations or a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer should talk to their doctor about screening mammograms.
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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Which Men Are At Risk For Breast Cancer
A risk factor is anything that may increase your chance of having a disease. Risk factors for a certain type of cancer might include smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. The exact cause of someones cancer may not be known. But risk factors can make it more likely for a person to have cancer.
Things you should know about risk factors for cancer:
- Risk factors can increase a person’s risk, but they don’t always cause the disease.
- Some people with one or more risk factors never develop cancer. Other people with cancer have no risk factors.
- Some risk factors are very well known. But there’s ongoing research about risk factors for many types of cancer.
Some risk factors, such as family history, may not be in your control. But others may be things you can change. Knowing the risk factors can help you make choices that might help lower your risk. For instance, if an unhealthy diet is a risk factor, you may choose to eat healthy foods. If extra weight is a risk factor, your healthcare provider may help you lose weight.
Risk factors for breast cancer in men include:
- Being age 60 or older
- Radiation exposure, such as from radiation used to treat another cancer in the chest
- Estrogen treatment
- Diseases linked to high estrogen levels and low levels of male hormones , such as severe liver disease or Klinefelter syndrome
- Heavy use of alcohol
- One or more female or male relatives have breast cancer
- A breast cancer 2 gene mutation in the family
What Will Happen After Treatment
Youll be glad when treatment is over. But its hard not to worry about cancer coming back. Even when cancer never comes back, people still worry about it. For years after treatment ends, you will see your cancer doctor. Be sure to go to all of these follow-up visits. You will have exams, blood tests, and maybe other tests to see if the cancer has come back.
At first, your visits may be every 3 to 6 months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed. After 5 years, they may be done once a year.
If you still have a breast , youll need to get a mammogram every year.
Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us or talk to your cancer care team to find out what you can do to feel better.
You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life making healthy choices and feeling as well as you can.
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Personal Stories From Men With Breast Cancer
While 144 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, it can be isolating being diagnosed with what is considered a ‘women’s cancer’. It may help to read stories from other men with breast cancer to know you are not alone. Read stories from men with breast cancer, or connect with other men in a similar situation on BCNA’s online network.
What Forms Of Breast Cancer Can Men Get
Men develop many, though not all, of the same forms of breast cancer that women do. In fact, male and female breasts are structurally similar until puberty. Both boys and girls have nipples and a few milk ducts, so cancers that affect these structures are possible in both men and women.
The most common breast cancers in both sexes are ductal and lobular cancers, meaning that they originate in the glands that produce milk or the ducts that carry milk. These are known as:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ: Ductal cancer that hasnt spread
- Invasive ductal carcinoma: Ductal cancer that has spread
- Invasive lobular carcinoma: Cancer of the milk glands that has spread
Other cancers that can appear in the chest area include:
- Sarcomas: Bone and connective tissue cancer
- Lymphomas: Immune system cancers
As well, men can develop benign breast lumps.
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When To See Your Gp
See your GP if you have:
- a lump in your breast
- any other worrying symptoms, such as nipple discharge
- a history of breast cancer in members of your family and you’re worried about your chances of getting it
It’s very unlikely you have cancer, but it’s best to get your symptoms checked. Your GP will examine your breast and can refer you for tests and scans for breast cancer if needed.
If you do not have symptoms but have a clear family history of breast cancer, your GP may refer you to a genetic specialist to discuss your risk of getting it.
What Are The Common Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
The following early signs and symptoms of breast cancer can happen with other conditions that are not cancer related.
- New lump in the breast or underarm
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area of the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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Targeted Cancer Drug Therapy
Your doctor will check your cancer cells for proteins called HER2 receptors. But these are rarely found in male breast cancer. If your cancer cells have a lot of these receptors, your doctor will prescribe a targeted drug treatment for you.
The most common targeted drug for breast cancer is trastuzumab .
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How Does Breast Cancer Start
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grow out of control. Different kinds of breast cells develop into different types of breast cancer. Most breast cancers begin in the breast ducts or lobules . These are known respectively as invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Other less common types of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer and ductal carcinoma in situ.
Though breast cancer is most common in women, men can develop it as well. A mans lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,620 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
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