Males Can Have Breast Cancer Too!

Breast cancer is usually seen in women, but men can get it too. Many people do not realize that men also have breast tissues and may develop breast cancer. Cells in any part of the body can become cancerous and can spread to other areas.


The onset of breast cancer begins when cells in the breast region begin to multiply out of control. These cells can turn into a tumor that can often be visualized with a test or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancer) if the cells can invade into surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.


Male breast tissue


Until puberty, boys and girls have a small amount of breast tissue consisting of few ducts located under the nipple and the surrounding area of the nipple. At puberty, a girl's ovaries begin to secrete female hormones, causing the growth of breast ducts and the formation of lobules at the ends of ducts. The breast tissues in males have ducts, but only a few lobules.


Where dies breast cancer begin?


Breast cancers can originate from various parts of the breast. Most breast cancers start in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple. This cancer is known as ductal cancer. Some cancers start in the glands that secrete breast milk. This is known as lobular cancer. Men have these ducts and glands in their breasts. However, these ducts and lobules are not normally functional. There are some other types of breast cancer that start in different types of breast cells, but these are usually less common.


There are few cases in which certain cancers start in the other tissues of the breast. These cancers are called sarcomas and lymphomas.


Types of breast cancer found in men

Given below are the types of breast cancer are found in men:


  1. Infiltrating ductal carcinoma: It is a type of cancer that spreads beyond the cells lining ducts in the breast. Infiltrating ductal carcinoma is the most occurring breast cancer in males.
  2. Ductal carcinoma in situ: An abnormal growth of cells that are found in the lining of a duct, also called intraductal carcinoma.
  3. Inflammatory breast cancer: It is a type of breast cancer in which the breast looks swollen and red and feels warm.
  4. Paget disease of the nipple: Cancer that spread from ducts beneath the nipple onto the surface of the nipple.



Signs and symptoms a man with breast cancer may experience include:


  • Lump formation or thickening of the breast tissue
  • Changes of the skin covering the breast area, such as dimpling, redness or scaling
  • Changes in nipple: redness or scaling, or nipple begins to turn inward
  • Discharge from the nipple


Risk factors

Factors that may increase the risk of getting breast cancer in men include:

Older age - Risk of developing breast cancer increases with the growing age. In most cases, breast cancer in men is often diagnosed in their 60s.

Estrogen exposure - if an individual take estrogen-based drugs; for example, those used for hormone therapy in treating prostate cancer, the risk of breast cancer is higher.


Family history of breast cancer - If a close family member has a history of breast cancer than the chance of getting breast cancer is higher.


Klinefelter's syndrome - This is a genetic disorder that occurs when men are born with an extra copy of X chromosome. Klinefelter's syndrome causes unusual growth of the testicles. As a result, men with Klinefelter's syndrome produce a small amount of certain male hormones (androgens) and produce a higher amount of female hormones.


Obesity - Obesity is linked to higher levels of estrogen in the body, which may hike up the risk of male breast cancer.


Testicle disease or surgery - Having inflamed testicles (known as orchitis) or surgery to remove a testicle (orchiectomy) is also a risk factor that may increase the risk of breast cancer in men. 


Tests for Breast Cancer in Men:

The following tests are useful in screening for breast cancer:

Physical exam and history: An overview of the body to check general signs of health, including signs of illness, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A doctor may also record the history of the patient's health habits, and past diseases and treatments may will also be taken into account. 


Clinical breast exam: An examination of the breast in which the doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms to check any lumps formation or anything else that seems unusual in the chest.


Mammogram: This is a specific test of breast imaging. 


Ultrasound exam: A diagnostic tool in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are reflected in internal tissues or organs and create echoes. The echoes form an image of body tissues known as a sonogram. The picture can be used to visualize any abnormality within the body.


MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A technique that utilizes a magnet, radio waves, and a scanner to make a sequence of detailed pictures of the breasts.


Blood chemistry studies: A pathology procedure in which a blood sample is taken from the patient and is examined under a microscope to measure the amount of certain compounds released into the blood by organs and tissues. A fluctuated or an unusual amount of a substance can be an indication of disease.


Biopsy: The removal of a small amount of cells or tissues and then viewed under a microscope by a trained pathologist to check for signs of cancer.


Note: These diagnostic tests are suggestions only. Please consult a doctor before taking any tests.



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