What You Should Know about Male Breast Cancer
Although it’s uncommon, breast cancer can occur in men, and it can be serious. According to the American Cancer Society, about 2,350 cases of invasive male breast cancer will be discovered in 2015, and about 440 men will die of the illness.
Those figures highlight the importance of knowing as much as possible about male breast cancer. Here, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) shares its most up-to-date information:
Male breast cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the breast.
Radiation exposure, high levels of estrogen, and a family history of breast cancer can increase a man’s risk of breast cancer. Male breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes).
Men with breast cancer usually have lumps that can be felt. Tests that examine the breasts are used to detect and diagnose breast cancer in men. Certain factors affect prognosis and treatment options.
Breast cancer may occur in men at any age, but it is usually detected in men between 60 and 70 years of age. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer.
Types of Male Breast Cancer
The following types of breast cancer are found in men:
Infiltrating ductal carcinoma: Cancer that has spread beyond the cells lining ducts in the breast. Most men with breast cancer have this type of cancer.
Ductal carcinoma in situ: Abnormal cells that are found in the lining of a duct; also called intraductal carcinoma.
Inflammatory breast cancer: A type of cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm.
Paget disease of the nipple: A tumor that has grown from ducts beneath the nipple onto the surface of the nipple.
Risk factors for breast cancer in men may include the following:
Being exposed to radiation.
Having a disease linked to high levels of estrogen in the body, such as cirrhosis (liver disease) or Klinefelter syndrome (a genetic disorder.)
Having several female relatives who have had breast cancer, especially relatives who have an alteration of the BRCA2 gene.
Male breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes).
The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person’s parents. Hereditary breast cancer makes up about 5% to 10% of all breast cancers. Some mutated genes related to breast cancer are more common in certain ethnic groups. Men who have a mutated gene related to breast cancer have an increased risk of this disease.
There are tests that can detect (find) mutated genes. These genetic tests are sometimes done for members of families with a high risk of cancer.
Lumps and other signs may be caused by male breast cancer or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you notice a change in your breasts.