Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men. The American Cancer Society estimates that each year, about 1,990 new cases of breast cancer in men will be diagnosed and that breast cancer will cause approximately 480 deaths in men. A man's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about one in one thousand.
The estimated five year survival rate for early-stage male breast cancer is 75-100%. For mid-stage male breast cancer it is 50-80%, and for advanced-stage male breast cancer there is 30-60% chance of survival after five years from detection.
What are the symptoms of Male Breast Cancer?A symptom is something the patient senses and describes, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor notice. For example, drowsiness may be a symptom while dilated pupils may be a sign.
Adjusted for age and stage the prognosis for breast cancer in men is similar to that in women. Men will experience smaller tumor size and absence or paucity of local lymph node involvement. Hormonal treatment may be associated with hot flashes and impotence.
The most common symptom of male breast cancer is the appearance of a lump in the breast. In most cases, the lump will be painless.
Less common symptoms of male breast cancer usually affect the nipple. Such symptoms include nipple retraction, ulceration and discharge, where fluid begins to leak from the nipple.
If the cancer spreads additional symptoms may include breast pain, bone pain, and swelling of the lymph nodes (glands) near the breast, usually in or around, the armpit.
What are the causes of Male Breast Cancer?It is not known for certain what causes the cells in the breast to become cancerous. However, a number of risk factors for male breast cancer have been identified.
About 85% of breast cancers in men have estrogen receptors on their cell membranes. Estrogen receptors on the cell membranes allow estrogen molecules to bind to the cancer cells. Estrogen binding to the cancer cells stimulates cell growth and multiplication.
Klinefelter's syndrome is a major risk factor for male breast cancer because men with the condition are 20 times more likely to develop male breast cancer than the male population at large. Klinefelter's syndrome is where baby boys are born with much higher levels of estrogen than normal.
A number of mutated genes have been linked to an increase risk of male breast cancer. For example, a mutation known as the BRAC2 mutation has been found in an estimated 5% of men with male breast cancer.
There is also evidence that male breast cancer can run in families, as 1 in 5 men who develop breast cancer, have a first-degree male relative, such as a father, or brother, who also has a history of breast cancer.
Recent developments on male breast cancer from MNT news
The rate of double mastectomy among men with breast cancer increased significantly between 2004 and 2011, reveals a new study published in JAMA Surgery.
Diagnosing Male Breast CancerTypically self-examination leads to the detection of a lump in the breast which requires further investigation.
Biopsy, ultrasound and mammography may be sometimes used for further definition.
What are the treatment options for Male Breast Cancer?Surgery is usually the first treatment option for male breast cancer, and usually involves an operation called a modified radical mastectomy. This involves the surgeon removing the entire breast as well as the lymph nodes in the armpit.
Estrogen hormone therapy can be used in cases of male breast cancer where there are estrogen receptors on the walls of the cancerous cells. This means that the cells can use estrogen to help them grow and reproduce. Therefore, the aim of hormone therapy is to block the effects of estrogen. In addition, Tamoxifen is a widely used medication in hormone therapy. It works by blocking the estrogen receptors so that estrogen is unable to enter into cancerous cells. In another treatment option, aromatase inhibitors block the effects of the aromatase protein which, in turn, lowers the amount of estrogen in the body.
Chemotherapy is used to treat cases of male breast cancer where the cancerous cells do not have estrogen receptors, meaning that hormone therapy would be mostly ineffective. Chemotherapy is usually given after surgery in order to prevent the cancer returning, or it is used to treat the symptoms of incurable cancer.
Preventing Male Breast CancerEarly detection can help prevent the spread of cancer. If there is a history of male breast cancer in the family, a person should check regularly for lumps and report any changes to a doctor as soon as possible.
In general, leading a healthy lifestyle is a good way to help prevent male breast cancer, as well as many other serious health conditions.
Written by Sy Kraft (B.A.)