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 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.
Risk factors may include the following:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.