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.
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 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.
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M Categories For Breast Cancer
M followed by a 0 or 1 indicates whether the cancer has spread to distant organs — for example, the lungs, liver, or bones.
M0: No distant spread is found on x-rays or by physical exam.
cM0: Small numbers of cancer cells are found in blood or bone marrow , or tiny areas of cancer spread are found in lymph nodes away from the underarm, collarbone, or internal mammary areas.
M1: Cancer has spread to distant organs .
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.
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Coping With Stage 4 Breast Cancer
It is natural to feel depressed, anxious, or even angry when you have been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It can leave you feeling as if you have no control over your health or future. Moreover, you may find that certain people will withdraw from you or suggest that you have metastatic cancer because you “left it too long.”
It is important to shield yourself from these negative emotions and embrace people who can provide you with genuine support. These include loved ones, support groups, and your oncology team. If you are unable to cope, ask for a referral to a therapist who can provide you counseling or a psychiatrist able to dispense treatment.
With that being said, there are women who experience positive emotional growth after being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It is not uncommon to hear someone say that cancer helped prioritize their life, allowing them to pursue what is truly important and connect with people on a deeper, more profound level.
Whatever your experience, don’t go it alone. Seek support and work with your medical team as a full partner in your care.
What Does It Mean To Have Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Stage 4 breast cancer means that the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the brain, bones, lung and liver.
Although Stage 4 breast cancer is not curable, it is usually treatable and current advances in research and medical technology mean that more and more women are living longer by managing the disease as a chronic illness with a focus on quality of life as a primary goal. With excellent care and support, as well as personal motivation, Stage 4 breast cancer may respond to a number of treatment options that can extend your life for several years.
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Survival Rate With Metastatic Breast Cancer
Many people wonder about the life expectancy for stage 4 breast cancer . It’s important to note that everyone is different and survival rates vary widely. There are some people who survive many years and even decades with stage 4 disease. At the same time, it’s important to understand that stage 4 breast cancer isn’t curable.
It can be helpful to look at current statistics and consider the many variables that affect life expectancy. While it’s important not to raise false hope, it may help to know the reality that there are some long-term survivors.
Some people want to know the statistics, but many don’t. If you’re living with stage 4 breast cancer, there is absolutely no requirement that you know the prognosis. The information provided here is only for those who truly wish to know what the current research iseven this research has many limitations.
What Are The Treatments For Male Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer treatment depends on the type and stage of the disease. Your team of providers will discuss your options with you. Your medical history will help guide what treatment is best for you. Treatments include:
- Surgery: During breast cancer surgery, your provider removes as much of the tumor as possible. You may need a lumpectomy or a mastectomy . Because men have limited breast tissue, mastectomy is more commonly done. You may also need surgery to remove lymph nodes.
- Radiation: Your provider uses targeted radiation therapy to kill cancer cells. Radiation for breast cancer usually follows surgery .
- Chemotherapy : Your provider delivers chemotherapy drugs into a vein, usually through an infusion. You might also take oral chemotherapy pills . These medications kill cancer cells and stop them from multiplying. You may receive chemo treatments over several weeks or months.
- Hormone therapy : Your provider prescribes medications that affect your hormones. These drugs may lower levels of estrogen or block the effects of estrogen. Providers usually use hormone therapy to treat women with breast cancer, but it can be an effective treatment for men, too. These medications treat breast cancers that use hormones to grow. Hormone therapy can be given in the form of pills and/or injections.
- Medications: Several medications kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. Your provider will discuss these medications with you. These may include medications called targeted therapy.
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Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
The symptoms of stage 4 breast cancer depend on the location of the cancer and where it has spread in your body.
- If breast cancer has spread to your bones, you may notice a sudden new bone pain. Breast cancer most commonly spreads to your ribs, spine, pelvis, or arm and leg bones.
- If it has spread to your brain, you may experience headaches, vision or speech changes, or memory problems.
- Breast cancer that has spread to your lungs or liver usually causes no symptoms.
The main treatments for stage 4 breast cancer are targeted drug therapies that destroy cancer cells wherever they are in your body.
These treatments may include:
- hormone therapy, which stops or slows the growth of tumors by preventing your body from producing hormones or interfering with the effect of hormones on breast cancer cells
- chemotherapy, where drugs given orally or through an IV travel through your bloodstream to fight cancer cells
- immunotherapy, which uses drugs that stimulate your immune system to destroy cancer cells
- a combination of these therapies
The following are the common treatment options for different types of stage 4 breast cancer.
Male Breast Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Breast
Breast cancer may occur in men. Breast cancer may occur in men at any age, but it usually occurs in men between 60 and 70 years of age. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer.
The following types of breast cancer are found in men:
- Infiltrating ductal carcinoma: Cancer that has spread beyond thecells liningducts in the breast. This is the most common type of breast cancer in men.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ: Abnormal cells that are found in the lining of a duct also called intraductal carcinoma.
- Inflammatory breast cancer: A type of cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm.
- Paget disease of the nipple: A tumor that has grown from ducts beneath the nipple onto the surface of the nipple.
Lobular carcinoma in situ , which sometimes occurs in women, has not been seen in men.
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Prognosis For Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer isnt the same for everyone who has it. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, your symptoms at stage 4 will depend on the degree to which the cancer has spread in your body.
Although metastatic breast cancer has no current cure, it can be treated. Getting the right treatment can increase both your quality of life and longevity.
Life expectancy for breast cancer is based on studies of many people with the condition. These statistics cant predict your personal outcome each persons outlook is different.
The following factors can affect your life expectancy with metastatic breast cancer:
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:
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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:
Survival Rates Of Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Unfortunately, cancer cells often become more difficult to treat and may develop drug resistance once they spread. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare , the 5-year survival rate for women whose breast cancer is metastatic at first diagnosis is 32%, compared to the 91% on average for all breast cancer patients.
Factors affecting survival rate of metastatic breast cancer
Survival rates can provide an estimate of what percentage of patients with the same stage of breast cancer are still alive after a certain period of time . However, they cannot predict how long any specific individual with breast cancer will live. The length of survival time for people with metastatic breast cancer can vary significantly from person to person, but there are a number of factors which can influence this including:
- Response to treatment
- The extent and location of metastases
- The presence of other health issues not related to cancer
- The specific subtype of breast cancer . This is very important, as some types of cancer can be more aggressive than others and respond differently to treatment.
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For Family And Friends
Caring for a loved one with stage 4 breast cancer has special challenges as well. Fortunately, organizations such as CancerCare now offer support groups design for loved ones who are caring for someone with cancer. In addition to caring for yourself , it’s helpful to learn about metastatic breast cancer.
Common things that people learn about cancer usually refer to an early-stage disease, and myths about metastatic breast cancer can be painful for those living with advanced disease. For example, one of the things not to say to someone with metastatic breast cancer is, “When will you be done with treatment?”
For the most part, people with metastatic breast cancer will require some type of treatment for the rest of their lives.
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Male Breast Cancer
A lump-like swelling in the breast that may or may not be painful is the most common symptom of male breast cancer. A lump or thickening may be near the breast or in the underarm area. One side of the chest may appear bulkier than the other. Although most men diagnosed with breast cancer are older than 65 years, breast cancer can appear in younger men. Other common signs and symptoms may include:
- A change in the size or shape of the nipples
- Men with breast cancer usually have lumps that can be felt
- A dimple or puckering in the skin around the nipple
- A nipple turned inward
- Fluid discharge from the nipple, especially if it’s bloody
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola
- Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peau dorange
- Sometimes breast cancer can spread and cause swelling under the arm or around the collar bone even before the original tumor in the breast becomes big enough to be felt
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From Cured To Stage 4
Others, like Teri Pollastro, a 54-year-old stage 4 patient from Seattle, respond surprisingly well.
Diagnosed with early stage ductal carcinoma in situ in 1999, Pollastro underwent a mastectomy but did not receive chemotherapy, radiation or tamoxifen, since her cancer was ER negative.
âThey used the C-word with me, they told me I was cured,â she said. âEvery time I went back to my oncologist, he would roll his eyes at me when I had questions.â
In 2003, Pollastro switched to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance where she saw Dr. Julie Gralow, a breast cancer oncologist and clinical researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Gralow discovered Pollastroâs cancer had metastasized to her liver.
âMy husband and I were in shock,â said Pollastro of her mets diagnosis. âYou donât go from being cured to stage 4.â
Pollastro went on Herceptin, a type of immunotherapy for women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, and did six months of chemotherapy.
âI felt better right away with the treatment,â she said. âBut the problem is, it stopped . Thatâs what you can expect with mets. And thereâs always some residual cancer. And that starts percolating.â
And along with mets, she also had to deal with many misconceptions regarding her disease.
The Mercer Island, Washington, mother of two, who often counsels newly diagnosed patients, sometimes even found it difficult to relate to early stage breast cancer survivors.