While we are not talking about large percentages of men, it’s true that men can get breast cancer. Breast cancer may occur in men at any age, but it usually occurs in men between 60 and 70 years of age. To help put the men in your life at ease; breast cancer in men make up less than one percent of all cases of breast cancer.
So what types of breast cancer can men get?
- Infiltrating ductal carcinoma: A type of cancer that has spread beyond the cells lining ducts in the breast. This is the most common type of breast cancer in men.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ: Abnormal cells that are found in the lining of a duct; this is also called intraductal carcinoma.
- Inflammatory breast cancer: A type of cancer in which the breast looks red and swollen and feels warm.
- Paget disease of the nipple: A tumor that has grown from ducts beneath the nipple onto the surface of the nipple.
A family history of breast cancer and other factors can increase a man's risk of breast cancer. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; just as not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your health care provider if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for breast cancer in men may include the following:
- Treatment with radiation therapy to your breast/chest.
- Having a disease linked to high levels of estrogen in the body, such as liver disease or Klinefelter syndrome which is a genetic disorder.
- Having one or more female relatives who have had breast cancer.
- Having changes in genes.
Lumps and other symptoms in the breast area should be evaluated by a health care provider, including:
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
- A nipple turned inward into the breast.
- Fluid from the nipple, especially if it's bloody.
- Scaly, red or swollen skin on the breast, nipple or the dark area of skin around the nipple.
The following tests and procedures may be used to detect breast cancer in males:
Physical exam and history:
An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
Clinical breast exam:
An exam of the breast by a Prevea provider or other health care professional. Your Prevea provider will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
An X-ray of the breast.
A procedure in which high-energy sound waves are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram. The picture can be printed to be looked at later.
A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of both breasts.
Blood chemistry studies:
A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual amount of a substance can be a sign of disease.
The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. There are four types of biopsies to check for breast cancer:
If cancer is found,
- Excisional biopsy: The removal of an entire lump of tissue.
- Incisional biopsy: The removal of part of a lump or a sample of tissue.
- Core biopsy: The removal of tissue using a wide needle.
- Fine-needle aspiration biopsy: The removal of tissue or fluid using a thin needle.
tests are done to study the cancer cells.
Decisions between you and your provider about the best treatment are based on the results of these tests. The tests provide the following information:
Tests include the following:
Estrogen and progesterone receptor test
- How quickly the cancer may grow.
- How likely it is that the cancer will spread through the body.
- How well certain treatments might work.
- How likely the cancer is to come back.
: A test to measure the amount of hormone receptors in cancer tissue. If there are more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal, the cancer is called estrogen and/or progesterone receptor positive. This type of breast cancer may grow more quickly. The test results show whether treatment to block estrogen and progesterone may stop the cancer from growing.
A laboratory test to measure how many HER2/neu genes there are and how much HER2/neu protein is made in a sample of tissue. If there are more HER2/neu genes or higher levels of HER2/neu protein than normal, the cancer is called HER2/neu positive. This type of breast cancer may grow more quickly and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.
Survival for men with breast cancer is similar to survival for women with breast cancer.
Survival for men with breast cancer is similar to that for women with breast cancer when their stage at diagnosis is the same. Breast cancer in men, however, is often diagnosed at a later stage. Cancer found at a later stage may be less likely to be cured.
Certain factors affect the chance of recovery and treatment options.
The chance of recovery and treatment options depends on the following:
- The stage of the cancer or the size of the tumor and whether it is in the breast only or has spread to lymph nodes or other places in the body.
- The type of breast cancer.
- Estrogen-receptor and progesterone-receptor levels in the tumor tissue.
- Whether the cancer is also found in the other breast.
- The man’s age and general health.
- Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has come back again.
Men, the bottom line is, you can get breast cancer. If you notice any changes in that area of your body, talk to your provider.