Breast Cancer is Not Just for Women: Essential Information for Men

Understanding Male Breast Cancer: Risks, Symptoms, and Treatment

According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, accounting for nearly 30% of all new female cancer cases each year.¹ However, it’s a disease that affects men too. While male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer, it’s still crucial for men to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms.

Male Breast Cancer: Statistics and Survival Rates

The American Cancer Society predicts that there will be about 2,710 new cases of males with breast cancer in the United States in 2022.² With early treatment, the chances of being cured are high. Unfortunately, it can still be deadly when left untreated or detected late. With more awareness, early detection, and treatment of breast cancer in men, we can increase the survival rates of people in this population.

Types and Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer

Several types of breast cancer can be found in males. They are largely the same as the ones seen in females. The symptoms of these various types of breast cancer are similar in men and women. Although such symptoms may not always be a sign of cancer, it’s still important to see a doctor right away. Early detection is key to successful treatment.

How Breast Cancer Starts in Males

Most may not realize that, similar to women, men also have breast tissue. When cells in the breast start multiplying abnormally, they form a mass of tissue called a tumor. If left untreated, the tumor will eventually spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs, liver, and brain.

Diagnosing Male Breast Cancer

There are several ways that doctors can diagnose breast cancer in men. Your doctor will start off with a physical exam to check for lumps or other changes in the breast tissue. Doctors may also perform other medical testing to confirm a diagnosis.

Risk Factors for Male Breast Cancer

Several common risk factors can increase the likelihood of a man developing breast cancer. This includes age, family history, radiation therapy around the chest area, hormone therapy, Klinefelter syndrome, testicular medical conditions, liver disease, and overweight and obesity. More recently, researchers have also found some other key risk factors, such as genetic mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and male infertility.

Reducing the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer as a Male

There are several things that men can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer. This includes maintaining overall good health, genetic testing, and learning to do a male breast self-examination.

Treatment for Male Breast Cancer

Treatment for male breast cancer is typically the same as treatment for female breast cancer. Surgery is the most common option for removing the whole breast or part of it. Depending on the individual case, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy (sometimes in combination) may also be used.

The Lowdown

Breast cancer is not just a disease that affects females; men who are at risk need to be aware of this to improve their survival rate. As male breast cancer becomes more common in public discussion, this will hopefully encourage males to check their breasts, seek breast cancer screening, and receive early and timely treatment if diagnosed.

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