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Male Breast Cancer Risk Factors

How Is Male Breast Cancer Treated

Male Breast Cancer: Symptoms and Risk Factors

Traditional surgical treatment for breast cancer in women has been mastectomy . Since male breast cancer is rare and there is limited research on the effectiveness of treatment options, most physicians base their recommendations on the results of studies of female breast cancer.

Breast-conserving surgery is usually not a treatment option for men due to the small amount of tissue located under the nipple in the male breast. However, some men may choose breast-conserving surgical procedures to avoid a mastectomy. The most common form of breast-conserving surgery for men is lumpectomy, in which the surgeon removes only the cancerous breast tissue and a margin of normal tissue around it, sparing the rest of the breast. Patients who choose this treatment generally require radiation therapy to the breast area after surgery.

Lymph nodes are evaluated and might be biopsied. For patients with 3 to 4 positive lymph nodes, radiation after mastectomy may also be recommended.

Medication to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence throughout the body may also be recommended, as it is for female breast cancer treatment. This might include estrogen-blocking medication, growth factor antibodies and chemotherapy agents.

Male breast cancer is usually diagnosed at an early stage and can be associated with high rates of cure.

Any male diagnosed with breast cancer should be referred for genetic testing, as up to 40% carry an identifiable BRCA mutation .

What Are Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men

Breast cancer symptoms in men are similar to symptoms in women. Changes to the breast and nipple area can include:

  • Dimpling or pulling in of the breast tissue
  • Discoloration of a portion of the breast
  • Lumps in breast tissue
  • Nipples that are itchy, scaly or have discharge
  • Pulling in of the nipple
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm

Patients with these symptoms could have other causes for these breast changes, including benign breast tumors or gynecomastia but its best to schedule an appointment with your physician for further investigation.

What Are Risk Factors

The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown. But certain things can increase a mans chances of developing it. These are called risk factors. Because breast cancer in men is rare, most men who have these risk factors will never develop breast cancer.

If you are worried about breast cancer and would like to talk to someone, we’re here. You can:

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Being Diagnosed With Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is a condition that causes the growth of abnormally large breasts in males. It is due to the excess growth of breast tissue, not excess fat tissue. Changes in the levels of androgen and estrogen hormones, or how the body responds to these hormones can cause enlarged breasts in men.

This condition may occur in one or both breasts and often begins as a small lump beneath the nipple. Gynecomastia during puberty is not uncommon and usually goes away on its own. While having gynecomastia does not put you at a significantly higher risk for developing breast cancer, it’s still important to be aware of this condition.

You should contact your doctor if you present the following gynecomastia symptoms:

  • You have recent swelling, pain, or enlargement in one or both breasts
  • There is dark or bloody discharge from the nipples
  • There is a skin sore or ulcer over the breast
  • A breast lump feels hard or firm

Risk Factors You Can Change

Educational Information  Breast Cancer Hub

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 healthy 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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Do Men Really Have Breasts

Men have breast tissue that usually does not undergo development because most men lack the ratio of female-type hormones to stimulate this tissue. When hormonal levels fluctuate in life, particularly inadolescence, many young males will undergo temporary stimulation and enlargement of breast tissue behind the nipples that is frightening to them. A breast specialist can rule out any underlying serious condition and then reassure the patient and his family that the tissue will shrink once hormonal balance returns.

Men And Breast Cancer: Statistics

According to the American Cancer Society:

  • Breast cancer in men is rare less than 1 percent of all breast cancer occurs in men.

  • About 2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in men in the U.S in 2015.

  • Breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women.

  • About 440 men in the U.S. died from breast cancer in 2015.

Some people use statistics to figure out their chances of getting cancer. Or they use them to try to figure out their chance of being cured. Because no two people are alike, statistics cant be used to predict what will happen to one person. These statistics describe large groups of people. They dont take into account a person’s own risk factors, such as family history, behaviors, or cancer screenings. If you have questions, talk with your healthcare provider.

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Nih Study Confirms Risk Factors For Male Breast Cancer


One of the largest studies conducted to date pooled data from studies of about 2,400 men with breast cancer and 52,000 men without breast cancer and confirmed that risk factors for male breast cancer include obesity, a rare genetic condition called Klinefelter syndrome, and gynecomastia . Male breast cancer is rare, with only about 2,000 new cases expected to be diagnosed in 2014 in the United States. Since men are diagnosed with breast cancer at less than one percent the rate of women, studies on risk factors associated with this cancer in men have been limited in size and scope. Scientists at NCI addressed this issue by pooling risk factor data from over 21 studies on male breast cancer. The results of their work appeared Feb. 19, 2014, in the Journal of National Cancer Institute.

Targeted Cancer Drug Therapy

Male Breast Cancer | Risk Factor Of Gynecomastia | Dr. Sanjay Parashar

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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What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men

The most common symptoms of breast cancer in men include:

  • Breast lump or swelling

  • Nipple that turns inward

  • Fluid leaking from the nipple discharge, that may be bloody

  • A pain or pulling sensation in the breast

  • Skin or nipple changes such as dimpling, puckering, redness, or scaling

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. Its important to see a healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer.

Which Men Are More Likely To Get Breast Cancer

The older a man is, the more likely he is to get breast cancer. However, breast cancer is much less common in men than in women . Age at diagnosis. The median age of diagnosis of breast cancer for men in the U.S. is 68 . The median is the middle value of a group of numbers, so about half of men with breast cancer are diagnosed before age 68 and about half are diagnosed after age 68.

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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.

What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer: Causes and Risk Factors

CDCs Dr. Lisa Richardson explains the link between drinking alcoholic beverages and breast cancer risk in this video.

Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older.

Some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Most women have some risk factors, but most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.

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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
  • Fewer than 2 in 1,000 men in the general population

Men who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 inherited 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 and BRCA2 inherited gene mutations and cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.

BRCA2 inherited gene mutations and genetic testing

Genetic testing gives people the chance to learn if their breast cancer is due to an inherited gene mutation.

In the U.S., 5-10 percent of breast cancers in women are thought to be due to known inherited gene mutations . However, 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.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends all men diagnosed with breast cancer have genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations .

What Are A Man’s Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

Men share a number of risk factors for breast cancer with women, including family history, Jewish origin, obesity, low exercise activity and prior radiation to the chest wall. There are also risk factors unique to men, including never having been married, testicular issues , liver issues , and gynecomastia .

Men who take estrogen have higher rates of breast cancer as well. Men with Klinefelter Syndrome in which they have an extra female chromosome have a higher rate of breast cancer, however it still does not meet the rate in females.

Men with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation are at higher risk of getting male breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma skin cancer. The need for individual testing can be evaluated through the Cancer Risk and Genetics Program.

Doylestown Health patients have direct access to the Cancer Risk and Genetics Program provided through Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Cancer risk and genetics services are specifically designed for individuals who want information about their personal risk for cancer. The goal is to provide early detection and prevention of cancer in patients and at-risk family members.

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What Is The Most Common Type Of Breast Cancer In Men

The most common type of breast cancer in men is infiltrating ductal cancer. This is cancer that starts in milk duct and spreads to nearby tissues.

Other less-common types of breast cancer in men include inflammatory carcinoma and Paget disease of the nipple. A type of breast cancer called lobular carcinoma in situ is very rare in men. This is because men don’t have much lobular tissue. Lobular tissue is where breast milk is made.

What Are The Symptoms

Ask Mayo Clinic Health System Breast Cancer Risk Factors

The most common symptoms of breast cancer in men are

  • A lump or swelling in the breast.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.

These symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer. If you have any symptoms or changes, see your doctor right away.

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How Common Is Breast Cancer In Men

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. The American Cancer Society estimates for breast cancer in men in the United States for 2019 are: About 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed and about 500 men will die from breast cancer. “Male breast cancer is rare, but still represents 1% of breast cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States,” says Donna Angotti, MD, director of Doylestown Health’s Breast Center.

The Facts About Men And Breast Cancer

Health Articles
Read Time: 3 Minutes

While it is rare, men can get breast cancer. Learn more from our experts, Donna Angotti, MD and Michele Kopach, MD.

What do an NFL full back, a legendary rock star, a U.S. senator, and an iconic game show announcer have in common other than being in the limelight? Ernie Green of the Cleveland Browns, Peter Criss from KISS, Rod Roddy the announcer from The Price is Right, and Edward Brooke, the first African-American U.S. Senator, all had male breast cancer.”Breast cancer in men is more common than people think,” says radiologist and breast cancer expert Michele Kopach, MD. “Because it is so common in females it has become synonymous with women, but men have breast tissue, too.”Read on to learn more about what men should know about breast cancer.

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Is There A Genetic Link To Male Breast Cancer

The leading cause of male breast cancer is genetic predisposition meaning about 20% of men who develop breast cancer will have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. The same genes can elevate a womans risk for breast cancer BRCA1 and BRCA2 work similarly in men.

Additional risk factors for breast cancer in men include:

  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Taking estrogen

Family History Of Breast Cancer

Male Breast Cancer

Men who have close relatives with breast cancer may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Close relatives, sometimes called your first-degree relatives, are parents, children, sisters and brothers.

About 1 in 5 men with breast cancer have a close relative who has also had breast cancer.

The increased risk may be due to inherited faulty genes. Our genes store the biological information we inherit from our parents.

The genes most commonly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in families are BRCA1 and BRCA2. Men in families with the BRCA2 gene are more likely to develop breast cancer than men in families with the BRCA1 gene. It is thought that the BRCA2 gene may cause up to 1 in 10 breast cancers in men .

The chance of there being a faulty gene in a family is higher when:

  • a number of family members have been diagnosed with breast cancer or related cancers, such as ovarian cancer.
  • the family members are closely related
  • the family members were diagnosed at a younger age
  • a man in your family has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you are worried about breast cancer in your family, talk to your GP or breast specialist. They can refer you to a family history clinic or a genetics clinic.

Men with breast cancer may be offered genetic testing, even if they do not have a family history of breast cancer.

This is a rare syndrome that only affects men. Normally, males are born with one X chromosome and one Y chromosome , and females have two X chromosomes .

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What Are Risk Factors For Breast Cancer In Men

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 do not necessarily cause the disease.

  • Some people with 1 or more risk factors never develop cancer. Other people can develop cancer and have no risk factors.

  • Some risk factors are very well known. But there is 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 lower your risk. For example, if an unhealthy diet is a risk factor, you may choose to eat healthy foods. If excess weight is a risk factor, your healthcare provider may check your weight or help you lose weight.

Risk factors for breast cancer in men include:

  • Female relatives with breast cancer

  • A breast cancer 2 gene mutation in the family


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