All people, whether male or female, are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not develop milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. Even so, male breast cancer is very rare. Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men, and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer (National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2019)
Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment. The majority of men diagnosed are over the age of 50 (National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2019)
- Radiation exposure
- High levels of the hormone oestrogen
- Family history of breast cancer, especially breast cancer that is related to the BRCA2 gene
Signs & Symptoms
Male breast cancer can exhibit the same symptoms as breast cancer in women, including a lump. Anyone who notices anything unusual about their breasts, whether male or female, should contact their physician immediately.
Most men find their own lump while in the shower and it is usually located underneath the nipple and areola. It is common for men to delay reporting the lump to a physician which can result in the patient requiring more treatment.
Nearly all breast cancer in men is oestrogen receptor-positive with treatment including hormonal therapy, just as it does for 70% of women. Survival rates and treatment for men with breast cancer are very similar to those for women. Early detection of breast cancer increases treatment options and often reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer.
(National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2019)