Breast cancer in men is a rare disease. Men have a small amount of nonfunctioning breast tissue (breast tissue that cannot produce milk) that is concentrated in the area directly behind the nipple on the chest wall. Like the breast tissue in young girls, the breast tissue in boys consists of a few ducts located under the nipple and areola (area around the nipple). It’s here that most male breast cancers start.

Men’s breast cells are less developed than women’s breast cells, and men have fewer of them. That’s why breast cancer is less common in men. Men’s breast cells nonetheless can become cancerous. Just as in women, cancerous cells can spread (metastasize) within the body if they’re not treated in time.

Men breast cancer

Risk factors of male breast cancer include older age, exposure to estrogen, family history of breast cancer, Klinefelter’s syndrome, Liver disease, obesity, and Testicle disease or surgery. Men should not ignore breast lumps and should have any such mass examined by a physician as soon as possible.

Symptoms in men are similar to those in women. Most male breast cancers are diagnosed when a man discovers a lump on his chest. But unlike women, men tend to delay going to the doctor until they have more severe symptoms, like bleeding from the nipple.

Treatment options for breast cancer in men are generally the same as those for women. They may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy. The prognosis for men with breast cancer was once thought to be worse than that for women, but recent research suggests this may not be the case.

Causes of Breast cancer (male)

Breast cancer in men is a relatively rare condition, but it does occur. Researchers have identified several factors that may cause or contribute to the development of breast cancer in men:

1. Age: The risk of breast cancer increases with age. Most men with breast cancer are diagnosed after age 65.

2. Family History of Breast or Ovarian Cancer: If you have close male or female relatives who have had breast cancer, you’re at higher risk. Also, if you have a strong family history of other types of cancers, like ovarian or prostate, your risk of breast cancer may be higher.

3. Inherited Gene Mutations: A mutation in specific genes, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, greatly increases the risk of breast cancer in both men and women. Testing can be done to determine if you carry these genes.

4. Exposure to Estrogen: If you take estrogen-related drugs, such as those used for hormone therapy for prostate cancer, your risk can increase. Conditions that involve increased estrogen levels, like obesity and cirrhosis or disease of the liver, can also increase risk.

5. Radiation Exposure: If you’ve had radiation therapy to the chest, such as for Hodgkin’s lymphoma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you’re at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

6. Klinefelter’s Syndrome: This rare genetic syndrome occurs when a boy is born with more than one copy of the X chromosome. Klinefelter’s syndrome causes abnormal development of the testicles. As a result, men with this syndrome produce lower levels of certain male hormones (androgens) and more female hormones (estrogens).

Like with all types of cancer, the exact cause of breast cancer in men is not clear. These factors only increase the chance of getting breast cancer, but they do not guarantee it will occur. It’s also possible to develop breast cancer without any of these risk factors being present.

Risk Factors of Breast cancer (male)

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does occur. Several factors may increase the risk:

1. Age: Men are mostly diagnosed with breast cancer at an older age, usually above the age of 60.

2. Family History: Men who have close family members, such as a mother or sister, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, have a higher risk.

3. Genetic Mutations: Certain inherited genetic mutations, such as mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, can increase the risk of male breast cancer.

4. Radiation Exposure: Men who have been exposed to radiation, especially in the chest area, are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

5. Estrogen: The hormone estrogen stimulates breast cell growth, so higher levels can increase the risk of breast cancer. Conditions that increase estrogen level such as liver disease, obesity, and certain genetic disorders can increase a man’s risk of breast cancer.

6. Klinefelter’s Syndrome: This is a genetic condition where a male is born with an extra copy of the X chromosome, which results in lower levels of male hormones (androgens) and higher levels of female hormones (estrogens), increasing the risk of developing breast cancer.

7. Alcohol Consumption: Heavy alcohol use can increase the risk of breast cancer in men.

8. Certain occupations: Men who work in hot environments (like steel mills) or those exposed to gasoline fumes over long periods may have a higher risk.

9. Testicular abnormalities: Conditions like undescended testicles, mumps orchitis or surgery on the testicles can increase the risk of breast cancer in men.

10. Obesity: Fat cells convert male hormones into estrogen. Higher amounts of fat, especially around the belly, mean that men can produce more estrogen, which can increase the risk.

Please note that having one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean you will get breast cancer. It just means your risk of developing the disease is higher. Regular check-ups and screenings are necessary to detect possible symptoms early. Consult with a doctor for personalized advice.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast cancer (male)

Breast cancer in men presents similar symptoms to those in women. It is important to seek medical advice if you notice any changes in your breast tissue. The signs and symptoms of male breast cancer can include:

1. A painless lump or thickening in your breast tissue.
2. Changes to the skin covering your breast such as dimpling, puckering, redness or scaling.
3. Changes to your nipple such as redness or scaling, the nipple turning inward, or discharge from your nipple.
4. Swelling in the armpit (since breast tissue extends into this area).
5. The breast becoming larger or misshapen.
6. The skin on the breast or nipple may ulcerate.

Remember that the presence of one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. There could be other causes. However, it’s always best to check with your physician if you notice anything unusual.

Diagnosis Breast cancer (male)

Breast cancer in men is a rare disease, that happens when malignancy forms in the tissues of the male breast. Just like in women, cancer can start in the milk ducts or the milk-producing glands. Breast cancer in men can also be invasive, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer in men is often diagnosed at a later stage because awareness of the disease is less in men than in women, and men are less likely to suspect something wrong in that area. Also, because men have less breast tissue, it may be harder for them to notice small lumps.

Typical signs of breast cancer in men include a lump felt in the breast, nipple pain, an inverted nipple, clear or bloody nipple discharge, and swollen lymph nodes under the arm. If a man sees or feels anything out of the ordinary, he should definitely see a doctor. Survival rates and treatment for breast cancer in men are very similar to those for women.

Risk factors for male breast cancer include older age, high estrogen levels, radiation exposure, family history of breast cancer, and a genetic mutation such as BRCA2.

Treatment of Breast cancer (male)

Male breast cancer is a rare disease that is usually treated with similar strategies as those used for breast cancer in women. Treatment can depend on the stage of the cancer, overall health, personal choices, and other factors. It can include:

1. Surgery: This is the most common treatment for male breast cancer.

Mastectomy: In this procedure, the entire breast is removed, including the nipple, areola, and skin. Depending on the stage and spread of the cancer, lymph nodes under the arm may also be removed.

Lumpectomy: This is less common in men because they have less breast tissue. In a lumpectomy, only the tumor and some surrounding tissue are removed.

2. Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells. It’s often used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

3. Chemotherapy: This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be given before surgery to shrink larger tumors or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

4. Hormone Therapy: Since most male breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, treatments that block hormones that feed the cancer cells can be effective. This could include medications that block the effects of estrogen or lower estrogen levels in the body.

5. Targeted Therapy: Some men might benefit from targeted drug treatments that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells. For example, Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a drug that interferes with a protein on the surface of cancer cells that promotes cancer cell growth.

6. Immunotherapy: This is a drug treatment that helps your immune system to fight cancer. It’s typically reserved for advanced breast cancer.

7. Clinical Trials: They explore new ways to treat breast cancer. Patients can talk to their doctors about the potential benefits and risks.

As with any cancer, early detection increases the chance of successful treatment. Therefore, men are advised to seek immediate medical attention if they notice any abnormalities or changes in their breasts.

In all cases, the treatment plan should be discussed thoroughly with the patient, taking into account his overall health status and personal preferences.

Medications commonly used for Breast cancer (male)

The medications used for treating male breast cancer are similar to those used for women. These include:

1. Hormone Therapy: Since most male breast cancers are hormone-receptor positive, hormone-blocking medications are often effective. These drugs include Tamoxifen which prevents estrogen from binding to estrogen receptors, and Aromatase Inhibitors such as Anastrozole which stop the body from making estrogen.

2. Chemotherapy: These are drugs used to kill cancer cells throughout the body. They may be given before surgery to shrink tumors or after to kill off any remaining cancer cells. Common drugs include Doxorubicin, Cyclophosphamide, and Taxanes like Paclitaxel or Docetaxel.

3. Targeted Therapy: These drugs specifically target molecular changes or characteristics in cancer cells. For instance, Trastuzumab and Pertuzumab are used when the cancer overexpresses the HER2 gene.

4. Immunotherapy: This type of treatment utilizes the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is an immunotherapy medication used to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is PD-L1 positive and has not responded to other treatments.

5. CDK4/6 inhibitors: Drugs like Palbociclib, Ribociclib and Abemaciclib are also used to treat male breast cancer, especially in combination with hormone therapy. These medications block proteins in the cell called cyclin-dependent kinases, which cause the cell to grow and divide.

Remember, the selection of medications depends upon different factors including the type and stage of the cancer, patient’s overall health, and their personal preferences. Hence, treatments can be individualized for each patient. Always consult with the healthcare team for the best treatment options and personalized care.

Prevention of Breast cancer (male)

Breast cancer in men is a rare condition, but it’s important to take steps to reduce risk factors as much as possible. Here’s how you can take preventive measures:

1. Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle: Consuming a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise can lower the likelihood of developing breast cancer and numerous other health problems.

2. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Regularly consuming alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Limiting intake can lower this risk.

3. Avoid Exposure to Radiation: Regular exposure to radiation can increase the risk of many types of cancers, including breast cancer. Try to minimize exposure as much as possible.

4. Stop/Do not Start Smoking: Smoking might increase the risk of breast cancer among men. If you smoke, it’s recommended you quit as soon as possible.

5. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity increases the risk of breast cancer, so it’s important to maintain a healthy weight.

Men breast cancer

6. Genetic Testing/Counseling: If you have a family history of breast cancer, it may be beneficial to seek genetic testing or counseling. They can help you understand your risk and what further preventive measures you can take.

7. Regular Checkups: Regular checkups and screenings can aid in detecting breast cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable.

Remember, prevention strategies mainly focus on reducing known risk factors. However, as with any health concern, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best preventive measures for you.

FAQ’s about Breast cancer (male)

1. What is male breast cancer?
Male breast cancer is a rare condition where malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. Male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancers.

2. What are the signs and symptoms of male breast cancer?
They include lumps in the breast, changes in the skin or nipple, or discharge from the nipple. However, these symptoms do not necessarily mean that a person has breast cancer – they could be due to another condition.

3. Who is at risk of getting male breast cancer?
The risk factors include aging, high levels of estrogen, a family history of breast cancer, radiation exposure, alcohol consumption, liver disease, obesity and certain genetic changes.

4. Can men get breast cancer tests and screenings?
Although routine breast cancer screening is not recommended for men because the disease is rare, those at higher risk may undergo screenings including clinical breast exams and mammograms.

5. How is male breast cancer diagnosed?
Tests to diagnose breast cancer may include physical exams, imaging tests (like mammograms), and biopsies. The exact tests depend on the individual symptoms and risk factors.

6. How is male breast cancer treated?
Treatment options depend on the type and stage of the cancer. They can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.

7. What is the prognosis for men with breast cancer?
The survival rates for male breast cancer are similar to those for women with breast cancer. The prognosis is better if the cancer is detected early.

Remember, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns about breast cancer.

Useful links

Male breast cancer is a rare disease that affects men. Understanding this disease thoroughly can assist in early detection, effective treatment, and living a healthful life after a diagnosis. Here are some journals and useful links regarding male breast cancer:


Remember to always consult with healthcare professionals and use academic resources for reliable information.

Complications of Breast cancer (male)

Breast cancer in men, though much less common than in women, can still pose significant complications and risks. The complications associated can be both physical and emotional.

1. Spread of Cancer (Metastasis): One of the major complications is that cancer can spread to other parts of the body. The lymph nodes are usually the first place it spreads to, but it can also extend to the lungs, liver, bones, or brain.

2. Recurrence: Even after a successful treatment, breast cancer can recur either at the same site (local recurrence) or in another part of the body (distant recurrence). This often demands continuous follow-ups and screenings.

3. Surgery-Related Issues: Surgeries such as mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) or lumpectomy (removal of the tumor and some surrounding tissue) might lead to complications like infection, bleeding, or a negative reaction to anesthesia. Some men might also suffer from difficulties relating to body image and sexual identity post-surgery.

4. Psychological and Emotional Stress: A diagnosis of breast cancer can cause significant psychological stress and could lead to depression and anxiety. There can be a severe emotional impact, leading to problems like fear, isolation, and a decreased quality of life.

5. Treatment Side Effects: Treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy can have side effects like nausea, fatigue, early menopause (in some cases where hormone therapy is involved), damage to the heart or lungs, and a higher risk of other cancers.

6. Financial Burden: The treatment of breast cancer can result in a heavy financial burden for many as it includes surgeries, medications, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and post-treatment care.

It’s important for men (and women) to recognize that early detection is crucial in dealing with breast cancer effectively. Regular check-ups and awareness of any changes in the breasts, such as lumps or changes in skin texture, can be critical in catching breast cancer in its early stages.

Home remedies of Breast cancer (male)

While certain lifestyle changes and natural remedies may be beneficial in promoting overall health and potentially preventing the development of different forms of cancer, it’s critical to note that these are not cures or direct treatments for breast cancer, especially considering it’s such a serious disease. When diagnosed with breast cancer, it is essential to get the proper medical treatment first, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or hormone therapy, depending on the stage and type of cancer.

However, the following are some general healthy lifestyle habits that can contribute to overall well-being and may help in recovery:

1. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Some studies suggest that diets low in fat and high in fiber might reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

2. Regular physical activity: Moderate physical activity can help boost overall health and also help the body to better cope with the stress of cancer treatment.

3. Limit alcohol: Keep alcohol to a minimum as heavy drinking can raise the risk of certain types of cancers.

4. Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the chances of getting various types of cancers, including breast cancer.

5. Limit exposure to radiation: Overexposure to radiation may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

6. Manage stress: Using stress-reducing techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help your body better cope with the stress of cancer and its treatment.

7. Adequate sleep: Ensuring you get enough rest and sleep can help your body heal and recover better.

8. Herbal and natural remedies: Certain natural supplements like turmeric, green tea, grapeseed extract, etc., are known for their antioxidant properties. However, it’s essential to discuss with your doctor before starting any supplement regimen, as they can interfere with the medications and treatments.

Again, these are general lifestyle tips and may not directly treat male breast cancer. They should be incorporated as part of an overall care plan under your doctor’s guidance. Your healthcare team is the best source for treatment decisions and managing the course of the disease.

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Last Update: January 5, 2024