Conditions & Treatments

Breast Cancer in Men

Breast cancer in men is a rare condition in which certain cells in the breast become abnormal and multiply without control to form a tumor.

Breast Cancer in Men

Statistics regarding men and breast cancer

Breast cancer occurs not only in women but also in some men, because men have breast tissue as well. Breast cancer in men is rare--less than 1% of all breast carcinomas occur in men. Consider the latest statistics available from the American Cancer Society (ACS):

  • The ACS estimates that in 2013 about 2,200 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the U.S.

  • Breast cancer is about 100 times more common among women.

  • Estimates for 2013 also indicate that there will be about 410 deaths from breast cancer in men in the U.S.

  • The average age at diagnosis is 68, although men of all ages can be affected with the disease.

What are risk factors for breast cancer in men?

Risk factors may include the following:

  • Radiation exposure

  • Estrogen treatment

  • Diseases associated with hyperestrogenism, such as cirrhosis or Klinefelter syndrome

  • Heavy alcohol intake

Also, there are definite familial tendencies for developing breast cancer:

  • An increased incidence is seen in men who have a number of female relatives with breast cancer.

  • An increased risk of male breast cancer has been reported in families in which a BRCA2 mutation has been identified. BRCA1 mutations can also cause breast cancer in men.

What is the most common type of breast cancer in men?

Infiltrating or invasive ductal cancer is the most common tumor type, but intraductal cancer, inflammatory carcinoma, and Paget disease of the nipple have been described as well.

Lobular carcinoma in situ is rare in men.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer in men?

The following are the most common symptoms of breast cancer in men. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Breast lumps or swelling

  • Nipple inversion

  • Nipple discharge (sometimes bloody)

  • A pain or pulling sensation in the breast

  • Skin puckering or dimpling

  • Scaliness or redness of the breast skin or the nipple

The symptoms of breast cancer may look a lot like other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What are the similarities to breast cancer in women?

Lymph node involvement and the pattern of cancer spread are similar to those found in female breast cancer. The staging system for male breast cancer is identical to the staging system for female breast cancer.

Prognostic factors that have been evaluated include the size of lesion and the presence or absence of lymph node involvement, both of which influence treatment outcomes.

Overall survival for men with breast cancer is similar to that of women with breast cancer. The impression that male breast cancer has a worse prognosis may be due to the fact that it tends to be diagnosed at a later stage.

Treatment options for men with breast cancer

Specific treatment for male breast cancer will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

The primary standard treatment is a modified radical mastectomy, just as it is with female breast cancer. Adjuvant (additional) therapy may be considered on the same basis as it is for a woman with breast cancer since there is no evidence that prognosis is different for men or women.

Treatment Programs

Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:

Cancer Center

  • Breast Cancer Treatment
    The Center for Breast Cancer provides comprehensive, compassionate care for patients with any stage of breast cancer.
  • Breast Cancer Evaluation
    We are leaders in the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer, offering the most advanced breast imaging, surgical screening and pathology services available.

  • Cancer Imaging and Intervention
    The Cancer Imaging and Intervention Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging combines leading-edge technology and the expertise of specialty-trained radiologists to provide comprehensive cancer detection and monitoring, plus image-guided treatments for specific types of cancer.
Department of Radiation Oncology

  • Breast Program
    The Breast Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital is staffed by leading radiation-therapy experts who provide compassionate, state-of-the-art care to patients with breast cancer.
Division of Surgical Oncology

  • Breast Cancer Surgery Program
    Massachusetts General Hospital's Breast Cancer Surgery Program provides expert care and state-of-the-art breast cancer surgery within a multidisciplinary Cancer Center team.

Breast Cancer Fashion Fundraiser April 30

The Partnership Symposium: Conquering Breast Cancer

On Sunday, April 26, the 92nd Street Y in New York City brings together three of the leading breast cancer organizations, top scientists and researchers, and breast cancer survivors to provide clear and current information on the disease.

Avon Walk Boston supports research and care at Mass General

As part of the Eighth Annual Avon Walk Boston, the Avon Foundation awarded a generous research and patient care grant to Mass General's breast cancer program.

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