Male breast cancer? When people think of breast cancer, they virtually always think of it in women. But men also get the disease. Thousands are diagnosed with it in the U.S. every year.
A lump beneath the surface of the nipple is the most common symptom of breast cancer in men. There may be changes to the skin. Often it’s puckering or dimpling, redness, or scaling. There may be itching of the nipple. Or it may turn inward. A discharge from the nipple may also occur.
Male Breast Cancer Risk Factors
The major risk factors for breast cancer in males are
- Diseased or removed testicle(s).
- Exposure to radiation. (Especially radiation therapy.)
- High levels of estrogen.
- Klinefelter’s syndrome.
- Cirrhosis of the liver.
- History of breast cancer in female relatives.
- Certain genetic mutations.
- Exposure to finasteride. That’s a drug used to treat baldness, prostate enlargement, and to prevent prostate cancer.
Treatment of men’s breast cancer usually involves surgical removal of the tumor. This is followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or specialized therapy. The drug tamoxifen is often used in treating the disease.
The expected outcome or prognosis of breast cancer in a man is similar to that in a woman. The size and extent (stage) of the tumor are the most important factors. Early detection and treatment are very important for a cure.
Male Breast Cancer Research
This study examined alcohol and risk of men’s breast cancer. It used 2,378 cases and 51,959 controls.
Breast cancer in males was not associated with any of the following.
- Recent drinking.
- Average daily amount of alcohol consumed,
- Cigarette smoking.
- Age at which smoking began.
- Smoking pack years, duration, or intensity.
- Cigar smoking.
- Pipe smoking.
- Tobacco chewing.
- Snuff use.
Age and weight had no effect on the lack of relationship. The authors found that ‘Tobacco and alcohol do not appear to be carcinogenic for male breast cancer.’
Source: Cook, Michael B., et al. Tobacco and alcohol in relation to male breast cancer: an analysis of the male breast cancer pooling project consortium. Cancer Epid Biomarkers Prev, 2015, 24(3),520-31.
Boyages, J. Men’s Breast Cancer. Beecroft, N.S.W.: BC Pub, 2015.
Johns, A. The Lump: A Gynecologist’s Journey with [His Own] Breast Cancer. Austin, TX: Live Oak, 2011.
Parker, J., and Parker. P. The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Men’s Breast Cancer. San Diego: Icon, 2002.