Male Breast Cancer Symptoms
Male breast cancer typically includes a lump that can be felt to the touch. It may feel like a thickening under your skin. Typically, its painless.
There are a lot of other possible breast cancer symptoms that might appear in addition to or instead of a lump. You might notice:
- Dimpled or puckered skin
- Dimpling that looks like the skin of an orange
- Redness or scaling on your nipple or skin
- Your nipple has turned inward
- Nipple discharge
- A lump or swelling under your arm or around your collarbone
Feeling any of this doesnt mean you have cancer it just means you should see your doctor to talk about the changes youve noticed.
How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Male Breast Cancer
Diagnosis of breast cancer requires identifying cancer cells in tissue specimens obtained by taking a sample of the growth — also called a “mass” or “tumor” — by the technique of biopsy. Since men have little breast tissue, cancers in male breasts are easily palpable and are often found on self-examination. Also, they are therefore easily accessible to biopsy. Fine needle aspiration or needle biopsy of a suspicious mass can usually establish a diagnosis. A doctor inserts a needle into the mass to withdraw tissue from the suspicious area. Microscopic examination of the tissue by a pathologist establishes the diagnosis.
Other techniques that may be used to diagnose breast cancer in men include incisional or excisional biopsy of a breast mass. If nipple discharge is present, microscopic examination of a smear of the discharge can sometimes establish the diagnosis.
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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Survival Rates For Breast Cancer
Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time after they were diagnosed. They cant tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.
Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they cant predict what will happen in any particular persons case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor, who is familiar with your situation, about how these numbers may apply to you.
What Causes Male Breast Cancer
Anyone can get breast cancer. Overall health, family history and genetic factors increase the risk of developing the disease. Risk factors of male breast cancer include:
- Age: Men over 60 are more likely to develop breast cancer.
- Overall health: Men with obesity may have gynecomastia . Gynecomastia increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
- Estrogen levels: Certain drugs that contain estrogen cause estrogen levels to rise. Cirrhosis can also increase estrogen levels. A genetic disorder called Klinefelter syndrome increases the risk of several health issues, including breast cancer.
- Family history: Men who have a first-degree relative with breast cancer have a higher chance of the disease.
- Genes: Genetic mutations increase the risk of developing breast cancer. These include changes in the BRCA gene . Mutations in these genes also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.
- Radiation therapy: Men who had radiation therapy in the chest or torso have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Testicular issues: People who have had surgery to remove their testicles have a higher risk of breast cancer. Testicle injuries also increase the risk.
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What Are The Different Types Of Male Breast Cancer
The most common type of male breast cancer is infiltrating ductal carcinoma, which is also a common type of breast cancer in women. Ductal carcinoma refers to cancers with origins in the ducts of the breast, and the term infiltrating means that the cancer cells have spread beyond the ducts into the surrounding tissue. On the other hand, lobular cancers , common in women, are extremely rare in men since male breast tissue does not normally contain lobules.
Other less common types of cancers of the breast that have been reported in men include ductal carcinoma in situ , cystosarcoma phylloides , and Paget’s disease of the breast . Some other types of breast cancer that occur in men are named for their growth patterns and microscopic appearance of the cancer cells, including papillary carcinoma, inflammatory breast cancer , and medullary carcinoma.
About 85% of breast cancers in men have estrogen receptors on their cell membranes. Estrogen receptors on the cell membranes allow estrogen molecules to bind to the cancer cells. Estrogen binding to the cancer cells can stimulate cell growth and multiplication.
The most common clinical sign of breast cancer in men is a firm, usually painless mass located just under the nipple. There may not be other associated symptoms. The average size of breast cancer in men when first discovered is about 2.5 cm in diameter. The cancer may cause skin changes in the area of the nipple. These changes can include
Its Rare But Its There
Men are less likely to report or seek help about body changes, and as early detection and diagnosis are key to better treatment options and survival outcomes, it is vitally important to be aware of potential breast cancer symptoms.
There is not enough awareness of breast cancer in men. Leaflets like this one by ABC are a great help
Mens Health Week 2020 saw Against Breast Cancer launch its first ever male breast cancer awareness campaign on social media to raise awareness of male breast cancer, encourage men to check themselves, provide a safe space for men to support each other and ultimately raise awareness of the importance of continued research to improve therapies for all breast cancer patients.
Join the Moobment, read real mens stories, learn facts about male breast cancer and help us raise vital awareness and funds for better therapies for all breast cancer patients.
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Support For Male Breast Cancer
It is important to remember you are not alone. There is a wealth of useful information and support online. As well as talking to family and friends, you can talk to your breast cancer nurse or GP if you need support.
Examples of online support forums include Macmillan and Cancer Research UK community forums. Breast Cancer Now offer their Someone Like Me service to connect you with another man who has had breast cancer. A monthly virtual meetup group is available to support men that have or had breast cancer . Other charities will also offer support services.
There are men who are brave enough to share their breast cancer story. Richard Chilvers was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent much of his time raising awareness amongst men of the need to be chest aware. Read Richards breast cancer story.
To help improve awareness of breast cancer in men, David McCallion and Doug Harper have shared their stories.
If The Cancer Has Spread Beyond The Breast
Some men are diagnosed with cancer that has already spread. Or the cancer might come back and spread some time after treatment. This is called secondary breast cancer, advanced breast cancer, or metastatic breast cancer.
In this situation your doctor might recommend:
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Surgery And Radiation Therapy
Sometimes, breast surgery in men is a lumpectomy . Men who have a lumpectomy usually have radiation therapy after surgery.
What Is A 5
A relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of breast cancer in men is 80%, it means that men who have that cancer are, on average, about 80% as likely as men who dont have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
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Breast Cancer In The Uk And England Over Time
*Breast cancer in UK women has:
- increased by 24% over 23 years
- increased by 5% over 10 years
- dropped by 2% over 3 years
* most up to date figures are from 2018
In England in 2019:
- Breast cancer became the most common cancer and accounts for 30% of all cancers
- The rate of breast cancer in women has doubled over the past 50 years
- The rate of breast cancer in men has remained stable over the past two decades
- 86% of breast cancers in women are diagnosed at stage 1 or stage 2
Age At Diagnosis In Male Breast Cancer
Similarly to women, the age at diagnosis does affect prognosis and risk factor in male breast cancer. It is medically well established that incidence rates rise steadily with age.
The average age of diagnosis for male breast cancer is 67.68 years. This is 5 to 10 years older than for female breast cancer patients in the USA. However, age at diagnosis varies geographically. For example, in the Middle East and South Asia, the age gap is much narrower between men and women.
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Sex Life And Fertility
Breast cancer treatments can have a direct effect on your sex life and ability to have children . Talk to your doctor or breast care nurse, there are often things that can help.
You may have a loss of sex drive and erection difficulties . This often improves after treatment, but it may take longer or become permanent. If you have a partner, it is important to talk to them. You may both need some time to adjust.
Some treatments can reduce the number of sperm you produce or make you infertile. It may be possible to store sperm before treatment begins. Fertility and sexual issues can hard to cope with. You may find it helpful to talk through your feelings with your doctor, breast care nurse, or a trained counsellor.
It is important to use effective contraception while having chemotherapy and for some time afterwards. Chemotherapy drugs in a mans sperm may harm a developing baby.
What Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer.
Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of the cells lining the breast lobules or ducts. These cells grow uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Both men and women can develop breast cancer, although it is uncommon in men. Transwomen, non-binary people can also get breast cancer.
Transgender and gender-diverse people can also get breast cancer. A transgender woman taking medication to lower male hormones and boost female hormones may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
It is estimated that 19,866 women and 164 men in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021.
In Australia, the overall five year survival rate for breast cancer in females is 91%. If the cancer is limited to the breast, 96% of patients will be alive five years after diagnosis this figure excludes those who die from other diseases. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, five year relative survival drops to 80%.
Treatment depends on the extent of the cancer.
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Male Breast Cancer Family History And Genetics
According to a 2016 medical paper, one of the main predisposing factors for male breast cancer is a positive family history.
Indeed, men with a first degree relative with breast cancer have a 2 time greater risk than those with no family history. This risk can increase up to 5 times greater with more affected relatives. It is estimated that up to 10% of male breast cancers are hereditary types.
This suggests that genetic factors play an important role in male breast cancer. Two important gene mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a role in male breast cancer with BRCA2 carrying a higher risk.
A 2016 medical study found that the lifetime risk for males developing breast cancer is 1.5% for BRCA1 gene mutation and 5-10% for BRCA2 mutation carriers. This compares to a 0.1% risk factor for the general male population.
It has been suggested by medical research that BRCA2 breast cancers in men more closely resemble post-menopausal female breast cancer. However, these male breast cancers tend to be of a high grade.
What Are Cancer Survival Statistics
A key part of making a prognosis is looking at survival rates. These are numbers researchers collect over many years in people with the same type of cancer. These numbers are based on large groups of people. For breast cancer, there are two main measurements:
Breast cancer survivalrates reflect the percentage of women who are alive 5 years or longer after their diagnosis. This means the numbers are based on women who were found to have breast cancer at least 5 years ago. Advances in diagnosing and treating cancer have led to steadily improving survival rates, so the outlook for women diagnosed today is likely better.
Relative survival rates donât take into account the cause of death. Theyâre a measure of the percentage of people with cancer who have lived for a certain time after diagnosis, compared with people who did not have cancer.
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What About Breast Cancer In Men
The stages of breast cancer relate to how much the cancer has grown and how far its spread. Generally, the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed and treated, the higher the chances for long-term survival.
|Stage 0||This is a precancerous stage with no invasive cancer cells.|
|Stage 1||The tumor is small and localized to the breast. There may be a small amount of cancer in nearby lymph nodes.|
|Stage 2||The tumor is still localized to the breast but is larger and may have spread to several nearby lymph nodes.|
|Stage 3||This stage includes cancers that have spread to the skin, chest wall, or multiple lymph nodes in or near the breast.|
|Stage 4||This is metastatic breast cancer, meaning its spread to one or more distant parts of the body, most commonly to the bones, lungs, or liver.|
The stages of breast cancer are based on the following factors:
- tumor size
- whether the lymph nodes contain cancer cells
- whether the cancer has metastasized, meaning its spread to other, more distant parts of the body
Since 2018, the following factors have also been used to determine breast cancer stage:
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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One For The Boys: Male Breast Cancer Incidence Mortality And Survival Rates
Whilst researching for our new, updated posts on female breast cancer survival rates, it became apparent that there is not a lot of information in one place about breast cancer in males.
In this post, we will be looking at all the latest information on male breast cancer incidence, mortality and survival rates.
It is SO important for men to seek medical attention immediately if they discover any unusual symptoms in the breast.
A lump, inverted nipple or discharge from the nipple is cause for concern. Men often present late for diagnosis and indeed, 40% of men present with stage III or IV disease. This is in part thought to be because of a delay in diagnosis. So come on, guys! Dont be shy!