Changes In The Nipple
A male’s nipples should not suddenly change, especially if he has not recently suffered an injury or has no nipple piercings .
As a result, a person should pay attention to changes such as the following:
- A puckered or distorted nipple
- Any discharge of colour or volume from the nipple
- An inward turn of the nipple
- Nipples that grow in size become lopsided or suddenly appear different from one another
- Changes in the colour of the nipples
- The nipple may be painful, itchy, or scaling
- A sudden breast milk production
Diagnosing Male Breast Cancer
Diagnosis male breast cancer starts with providing a complete personal and family medical history, describing your symptoms and being examined by your doctor.
After that, you may have screening with one of a few possible technologies, including a diagnostic mammogram, a breast ultrasound, a magnetic resonance imaging scan and/or possibly a test to study your nipple discharge.
Your doctor may also test your blood chemistry to look for unusual amounts of a substance that might suggest disease.
If your diagnostic tests show you may have cancer, the next step is a biopsy. A variety of different biopsies can involve removing cells through a needle, including fine-needle aspiration or core needle biopsy, or removing the whole lump or part of the suspicious area through surgery.
If cancer is found, additional tests will help your doctor know how quickly it may grow, how likely it is to spread or recur and what treatments may be the most appropriate.
Those would include:
- An estrogen and progesterone receptor test that measure the amount of these receptors in the cancer
- A HER2 test to measure the presence and level of HER2 protein
Men tend to be diagnosed with breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative.
The spread of cancer from breast to lymph nodes and other parts of the body in men appears to be similar to what women experience.
The stage of breast cancer is determined by your care team based on:
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What Are The Symptoms
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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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.
Brca1 And Brca2 Inherited Gene Mutations
Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Some people have an inherited mutation in one or both of these genes that increases the risk of breast cancer.
BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutations can be passed to you from either parent. They increase the risk of cancers in both women and men.
A person who has a BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutation is sometimes called a BRCA1/2 carrier.
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Can Male Breast Cancer Be Prevented Or Avoided
Men cannot prevent or avoid breast cancer. The American Academy of Family Physicians does not recommend breast cancer screening for men. However, men should talk to their doctor if they are at high risk for breast cancer. Their doctor might suggest genetic testing or a mammogram.
Factors that can increase the risk of male breast cancer include:
- Risk of cancer increases with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age of men diagnosed with breast cancer is between 60 and 70 years old.
- A family history of breast cancer and/or mutations of the BRCA gene increase risk.
- High levels of estrogen. This could be a result of genes, certain medicines, or hormone treatments. Men who are overweight or alcoholic also might have more estrogen.
- Men who have radiation exposure to their chest area could develop breast cancer.
- This is a benign condition in which a mans breasts are larger than normal. In turn, they have more breast tissue and are at risk of breast cancer.
- Klinefelter syndrome. Men who have this genetic disorder have two or more X chromosomes, along with a Y chromosome. Klinefelter syndrome is a birth defect. Men who have it can have enlarged breasts, as well as other traits.
What Does Breast Cancer Feel Like Pain
What does the pain feel like when you have breast cancer? What does the pain feel like when you have breast cancer? Breast or nipple pain Although breast cancer is often painless, it is important not to ignore any signs or symptoms that could be due to breast cancer.
unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast. Does breast cancer hurt in early stages? The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass . A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancer, but breast cancers can be also soft, round, tender, or even painful,
- Where does it hurt with breast cancer? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , some common symptoms of breast cancer to look out for include: unexplained pain in any area of the breast,
- Unusual changes to the breast size, shape, or skin that may accompany pain.
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Common Kinds Of Breast Cancer In Men
About 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in this country is found in a man.
The most common kinds of breast cancer in men are the same kinds found in women:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma. Cancer cells originate in the breast ducts and then grow outside the ducts in other parts of the breast tissue. These Invasive cancer cells can also spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells begin in the lobules and then spread from the lobules to the adjacent breast tissue. These invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ is a breast disease that may lead to invasive breast cancer. The cancer cells are only in the duct lining, and have not spread to other breast tissues.
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.
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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
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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Unexplained Bleeding Or Blood
Unexplained bleeding can often be caused by something far less serious than cancer, but you should always report it to your doctor.
This includes blood in your poo or pee, and vomiting or coughing up blood – no matter how much or what colour .
It also includes any unexplained vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after the menopause.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms
Metastatic breast cancer symptoms depend on the part of the body to which the cancer has spread and its stage. Sometimes, metastatic disease may not cause any symptoms.
- If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
- If the bones are affected, symptoms may include pain, fractures, constipation or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
- If tumors form in the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest wall pain or extreme fatigue.
- If the liver is affected, symptoms may include nausea, extreme fatigue, increased abdominal girth, swelling of the feet and hands due to fluid collection and yellowing or itchy skin.
- If breast cancer spreads to the brain or spinal cord and forms tumors, symptoms may include pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement or seizures.
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Brca1 And Brca2 Inherited Gene Mutations And Cancer Risks
Men who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 inherited gene mutation have an increased risk of :
- Pancreatic cancer
- Melanoma, a type of skin cancer
Men with BRCA1/2 gene mutations may also have an increased risk of other cancers . However, data are limited and these topics are still under study.
For a summary of research studies on BRCA1/2 mutations and breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.
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.
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Which Men Are More Likely To Get Breast Cancer
It’s rare for a man under age 35 to get breast cancer. Your chance of getting breast cancer goes up with age. Most breast cancers in men happen between ages 60 and 70.
Other things that raise the odds for male breast cancer include:
- Breast cancer in a close female relative
- History of radiation exposure of the chest
- Enlarged breasts because of drug or hormone treatments, some infections, or poisons
- Taking estrogen
Other Changes In The Breast
Many factors can cause the breasts to change, including medications, hormones, and weight gain or loss. Breast changes, especially those without apparent explanation, may indicate breast cancer, such as the following .
- A sudden increase in breast tissue, especially on one side of the breast
- Breast pain or itching
- A change in the sensation of the breasts
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Risk Factors For Breast Cancer In Men
While it is difficult to determine the exact causes of male breast cancer, there are some factors that are linked to an increased risk of the disease. Although these risk factors increase your risk of breast cancer, it does not mean that you will develop breast cancer. Moreover, having no known risk factors does not guarantee that you will never develop breast cancer.
Common risk factors for breast cancer in men include:
Similar to women, men are much more likely to develop breast cancer as they get older. The majority of men are diagnosed at or after age 50, although it can occur at any age.
Strong family history
A strong family history of male or female breast cancer can increase the risk of men developing breast cancer. However, most men who develop breast cancer do not have a strong family history. If you are concerned that you may have an increased risk of breast cancer due to family history, please consult your doctor.
BRCA gene mutations
Men with an inherited mutation in the BRCA2 gene, and to a lesser extent the BRCA1 gene, are at an increased risk of breast cancer. However, only a minority of breast cancers are explained by inherited mutations, and not everyone with a faulty gene will develop breast cancer. If you are concerned about your breast cancer risk due to genetic susceptibility, please speak with your doctor.
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.
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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.
- American Cancer Society. What is Breast Cancer in Men? Accessed 7/13/2021.
- American Society of Clinical Oncology. Breast Cancer in Men. Accessed 7/13/2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast Cancer in Men. Accessed 7/13/2021.
- National Cancer Institute. Male Breast Cancer Treatment Patient Version. Accessed 7/13/2021.
- Susan G. Komen. Facts for Life: Breast Cancer in Men. Accessed 7/13/2021.
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