What's to know about male breast cancer?
For mid-stage male breast cancer, it is 72-91 percent, and for advanced-stage male breast cancer, there is 20 percent chance of survival after 5 years from detection.
A man's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000 thousand.
- It is a rare form of cancer.
- Mutated genes have been linked to an increase risk of male breast cancer.
- A lump in the breast is the most common symptom.
- 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.
What are the symptoms of male breast cancer?
The main symptom of male breast cancer is a lump in the breast area.
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.
Statistics and survival rates for male breast cancer
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 little or no local lymph node involvement. Hormonal treatment may be associated with hot flashes and impotence.
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.
What are the treatment options for male breast cancer?
Surgery is a treatment option for male breast cancer and may be carried out with other treatments.
The following treatment options for male breast cancer will be considered:
Surgery - this is usually the first treatment option for male breast cancer, and usually involves an operation called a modified radical mastectomy.
The surgeon removes the entire breast and the lymph nodes in the armpit.
Estrogen hormone therapy - in some cancers, estrogen receptors are present on the walls of the cancerous cells.
In these cases, estrogen helps the cells to divide and grow. Hormone therapy blocks the effects of estrogen and slows the growth.
- Tamoxifen - a widely used medication in hormone therapy. It prevents estrogen from entering the cancerous cells.
- Aromatase inhibitors - these block the effects of the aromatase protein that, in turn, lowers the amount of estrogen in the body.
Chemotherapy - if there are no estrogen receptors on the cancerous cells, hormone therapy does not work. In these cases, chemotherapy is used. Chemotherapy is usually given after surgery in order to prevent the cancer returning, or it is used to treat the symptoms of incurable cancer.
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:
Estrogen receptors - about 9 out of 10 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 - this is where baby boys are born with much higher levels of estrogen than normal. It 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.
Mutations in genes - are thought to play a significant role. For example, a mutation known as the BRAC2 mutation has been found in an estimated 5 percent of men with male breast cancer.
There is also evidence that male breast cancer can run in families.
Diagnosing male breast cancer
Typically, self-examination leads to the detection of a lump in the breast, which requires further investigation.
Biopsy, ultrasound, and mammography may sometimes be used for further definition.
Prevention and risk factors for male breast cancer
Early 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.