Men And Breast Cancer Warning Signs
Breast cancer isnt typically associated with people who were assigned male at birth. But male breast cancer can occur in rare instances at any age, although its more common in older men.
Many people dont realize that people assigned male at birth have breast tissue too, and those cells can undergo cancerous changes. Because male breast cells are much less developed than female breast cells, breast cancer isnt as common in this part of the population.
The most common symptom of breast cancer in people assigned male at birth is a lump in the breast tissue.
Other than a lump, symptoms of male breast cancer include:
- thickening of the breast tissue
- nipple discharge
- redness or scaling of the nipple
- a nipple that retracts or turns inward
- unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast
Most men dont regularly check their breast tissue for signs of lumps, so male breast cancer is often diagnosed much later.
Other Important Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Unfortunately, there are also a number of important breast cancer risk factors that women have no control over. Knowing which ones apply to you can help you understand your risk and do what you can to lower it. If you feel youre at high risk, talk to a doctor or other health professional. These can increase a womans breast cancer risk:
- Older age, especially 60 years or over
- Family history of breast cancer
- First menstrual period before age 12
- Menopause at age 55 or over
- First childbirth after age 35
- No children
- Tall height
- Dense breasts
That People Who Have Breast Cancer Are Stronger Than You Think
“I wish people understood that even though there is no cure yet, to not treat us like we are fragile or that we are going to drop dead in front of them. I have learned through this journey who my real friends are and who weren’t. It took this disease to really see who was in my court.”
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Why Do People Get Breast Cancer
Any woman can get breast cancer, but these things can make some women more likely to get it:
- Family history: A woman whose mother, sister, aunt, or daughter has had breast cancer is more likely to get it.
- Age: As women get older, they are more at risk for breast cancer. Teens as well as women in their twenties and thirties are less likely to get breast cancer.
- Diet and lifestyle choices: Women who smoke, eat high-fat diets, drink alcohol, and don’t get enough exercise may be more at risk for developing breast cancer.
There Are Things We Can Do To Take Charge Of Our Breast Health
There are no guarantees against breast cancer, but there are ways to reduce your risk. Getting exercise and minimizing alcohol are a great start. For new, soon-to-be, and some-day moms, breastfeeding can also reduce your risk. People at higher risk may be able to take medication or even get surgery to bring their risk down. And we can all increase our chances of surviving breast cancer if we get it by taking action to catch any problems early. That means understanding our risk, getting on a regular screening schedule and getting checked out if we ever notice a change in our breasts.
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Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment And Prognosis
The type of treatment for metastatic breast cancer depends on the subtype of cancer that the patient is diagnosed with, says Dr. Mahaldar.
“We check for certain protein molecules on cancer cells,” she explains. “These are some of the currently known drivers for breast cancer. Treatment depends on which combination of these molecular receptors are present or absent.”
Depending on which protein molecules are present, patients could be diagnosed with:
Estrogen-positive cancer: With this type, cancer cells have estrogen receptors, so treatment includes hormonal therapy.
HER2-positive cancer: Cancer cells feature high amounts of the a growth-promoting protein called HER2, so treatment will involve antibody drugs that target the protein.
Triple-negative breast cancer: There are no hormonal receptors or HER2 proteins at play here, so treatment involves chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and other drugs. “For these patients, once they’re done with the initialy treatment, we focus on increased surveillance with blood work to keep track of cancer markers,” explains Dr. Mendez.
The bottom line: “While there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, there are surely means by which to slow the cancer, maintain or improve one’s quality of life, and even extend life,” says Savita Ginde, M.D., Chief Healthcare Officer at Stride Community Health Center in Denver, Colorado. “It’s important to work with your care team to come up with the best plan for you.”
What Are The Risk Factors For Male Breast Cancer
Aging is the primary risk factor for breast cancer in men as well as in women, says medical oncologist Ayca Gucalp, who is leading the research efforts in male breast cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering. However, men tend to develop the disease in their late 60s or 70s, which on average is five to ten years later than women.
Increased amounts of the hormone estrogen above the low level that is normal for men as well as decreased levels of testosterone can also result in a higher risk for male breast cancer. These altered hormone levels may be the result of chromosomal disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome certain conditions that affect the testicles liver dysfunction or medications that affect the balance of hormones, including some drugs used to treat prostate cancer.
As with breast cancer in women, a family history of the disease and mutations in the inherited genes BRCA1 and especially BRCA2 are also linked to higher incidence of breast cancer in men. These genes are linked to other cancers in men as well, such as prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer. For this reason, MSK experts, such as clinical geneticist , recommend that men diagnosed with breast cancer consider undergoing BRCA testing.
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In Your 30s You Should Talk To Your Doctor About Breast Imaging
Usually, doctors recommend breast imaging in your 40s and 50s, but your 30s are a good time to talk to your doctor about whether or not you need any imaging done on your breasts earlier. Depending on your breast tissue, which changes over time, this can include mammograms, ultrasounds or MRIs.
Dr. Richardson says, “Especially if you’re a person of color or of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, you should be asking your doctor if these images need to be captured earlier.”
Dr. Hunt adds, “Women who have family history, we often say that you should start screening 10 years before the age that your mother was diagnosed. So that’s something to talk to your doctor about.”
Myth: Breast Cancer Only Happens To Middle
It is true that being female and growing older are the main risk factors for developing breast cancer. In 2017, about 4% of invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in women under age 40, while about 23% were diagnosed in women in their 50s and 27% in women ages 60 to 69.6 While 4% might sound small, it isnt zero: This percentage means that one in every 25 invasive breast cancer cases occurred in women under 40.
Women of all ages need to pay attention to their breasts, perform self-exams, and report any unusual changes to their doctors and insist that breast cancer be ruled out if theres a concerning symptom. Even some doctors buy into the myth that women in their 20s and 30s dont get breast cancer. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer, especially cancers diagnosed in relatives before age 40, may wish to start screenings sooner.
Breast cancer is even rarer in men, but it does happen. People often think that men cant get breast cancer because they dont have breasts but they do have breast tissue. Male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S. In 2019, about 2,670 men are expected to be diagnosed with the disease.7 Even though male breast cancer is rare, it tends to be diagnosed at a more advanced stage because breast changes and lumps typically dont lead men and their doctors to think breast cancer. Changes in male breasts need to be checked out, too.
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Learn About The Different Types Of Breast Cancer
“I wish I knew that breast cancer is so much more than those two words. There are sub-types of breast cancer and it is not ‘advertised,’ nor is it talked about in the media. Not one person going through this disease experiences the same effects as another patient going through the same ‘type of breast cancer.'”
Norma Marquez, 43, currently diagnosed with triple-negative ductal carcinoma breast cancer
What About Other Treatments That I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
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Breast Cancer In Women Under 40
Each year, around 12,000 women under age 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer, making up less than 5% of all breast cancer cases, and it is the most common cancer found in women in this age group.
Throughout her lifetime, a woman has a 1 in 8 risk of developing breast cancer. No matter what your age you need to be aware of risk factors. In many cases of breast cancer early diagnosis is the key to survival.
This slideshow will tell you 10 things every young woman should know about breast cancer.
How Breast Cancer Starts
The breast is a highly complex part of the human body. The female breast goes through many changes over a lifetime from birth, puberty, pregnancy and breastfeeding, right through to menopause.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, understanding the anatomy of the breast and the role each part has to play can be helpful to understand your diagnosis. It can also help you talk to your doctor about surgery and other treatment options.
In this piece we cover:-Understanding Breast Anatomy-Normal Breast Changes Through Life-How Does Cancer Start in the Breast?-How Does Cancer Spread Beyond the Breast?-Symptoms of Breast Cancer
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Myth: Annual Mammograms Guarantee That Breast Cancer Will Be Found Earlyfact: Although Mammography Is The Best Early
Its certainly normal to breathe a sigh of relief any time your mammogram comes back clean. Most women think, Im good for another year and put breast cancer out of their minds.
Although mammography is a very good screening tool, it isnt foolproof. It can return a false-negative result, meaning that the images look normal even though cancer is present. Its estimated that mammograms miss about 20% of breast cancers at the time of screening.4 False-negative results tend to be more common in women who have dense breast tissue, which is made up of more glandular and connective tissue than fatty tissue. Younger women are more likely to have dense breasts.
The reality of false negatives explains why a woman can have a normal mammogram result and then get diagnosed with breast cancer a few months later. Some women can have a series of normal mammograms and still be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Also, there are cases where breast cancer develops and grows quickly in the year or so after a true negative mammogram.
Mammography does catch most breast cancers, though, and thats why regular screenings are essential. But its also important to pay attention to any changes in your breasts, perform monthly breast self-exams, and have a physical examination of your breasts by a health professional every year.
Know It’s Ok To Ask Questions
Ask questions! You should be an active participant in your care. Your medical team should explain to you any medical terms you do not understand, explain your treatment choices, possible side effects, and expected outcome. Ask for references to additional specialists you can talk to so you can learn more about your breast cancer. If you have not yet been diagnosed with breast cancer but are at high risk, ask your doctors about testing and any preventive measures you can take.
Also don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for support. Seek support groups with other people who are going through what you are, or who have gone through it. Bring a close friend or family member to your appointments to both take notes, or record your visit, and to encourage you to request clarification if anything is unclear. Express your feelings and concerns.
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Peeling Scaling Or Flaking Skin
Dont immediately be alarmed if you notice peeling, scaling, or flaking on your breasts or the skin around your nipples. This is a symptom of breast cancer, but it can also be a symptom of atopic dermatitis, eczema, or another skin condition.
After an exam, your doctor may run tests to rule out Pagets disease, which is a type of breast cancer affecting the nipples. It can also cause these symptoms.
A Lump In Your Breast
A lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Lumps are often hard and painless, although some are painful. However, not all lumps are cancer. Benign breast conditions that can also cause lumps.
Still, its important to have your doctor check out any new lump or mass right away. If it does turn out to be cancer, the sooner its diagnosed the better.
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Breast Cancer Survival Rate
Breast cancer survival rates vary widely based on many factors.
Two of the most important factors are the type of cancer you have and the stage of the cancer at the time you receive a diagnosis. Other factors that may play a role include your age, gender, and race.
shows theres a higher mortality rate in non-white people diagnosed with breast cancer compared with white people. One reason for this may be healthcare disparities.
The good news is breast cancer survival rates are improving.
According to the ACS , in 1975, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer in women was 75.2 percent. But for women diagnosed between 2008 and 2014, it was 90.6 percent.
Five-year survival rates for breast cancer differ depending on stage at diagnosis, ranging from 99 percent for localized, early stage cancers to 27 percent for advanced, metastatic cancers.
What Will The Doctor Do
Sometimes a doctor will discover a lump in a woman’s breast during a routine examination or a patient might come to the doctor with questions about a lump she found.
In other cases, a mammogram may find a lump in the breast that can’t be felt. A mammogram is a special kind of X-ray of the breast that helps doctors see what’s going on inside. Sometimes, other kinds of pictures, like an MRI, also can be taken.
When a lump is found, the doctor will want to test it. The best way to do this is usually with a biopsy. In a biopsy, a small amount of breast tissue is removed with a needle or during a small operation. Then, the tissue is examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
The biopsy may be benign , which means the lump is not cancer. If the biopsy shows cancer cells, the lump is malignant . If a breast lump does contains cancer cells, the woman, along with her doctor and family, will decide what to do next.
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Does A Benign Breast Condition Mean That I Have A Higher Risk Of Getting Breast Cancer
Benign breast conditions rarely increase your risk of breast cancer. Some women have biopsies that show a condition called hyperplasia . This condition increases your risk only slightly.
When the biopsy shows hyperplasia and abnormal cells, which is a condition called atypical hyperplasia, your risk of breast cancer increases somewhat more. Atypical hyperplasia occurs in about 5% of benign breast biopsies.
Myth: Using Underarm Antiperspirant Can Cause Breast Cancerfact: There Is No Evidence Of A Connection Between Underarm Antiperspirant And Breast Cancer But The Safety Of Antiperspirants Is Still Being Studied
There have been persistent rumors that underarm antiperspirants, especially those containing aluminum and other chemicals, are absorbed into the lymph nodes and make their way into breast cells, increasing cancer risk. Shaving the underarms was thought to make this worse by creating tiny nicks that allow more of the chemicals to enter the body. Another theory was that antiperspirants, by stopping underarm sweating, can prevent the release of toxic substances from the underarm lymph nodes, also increasing cancer risk.
However, there is no evidence of a link between antiperspirant use and breast cancer. Still, some studies have found that women who use aluminum products under their arms are more likely to have higher concentrations of aluminum in breast tissue.2 If youre concerned about minimizing the use of chemicals under your arms, check out these tips in Are Antiperspirants Safe?
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