12 Dec Breast Cancer in Men
It’s easy to forget that the term “breast” not only refers to a woman’s chest but to the flatter chests of men. Men have a “breast” too, including nipple, areola, and some, though very little, fatty tissue. And just like women, men can get breast cancer, though it is most often diagnosed in men over 60 and accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases, men and women alike.
The lifetime risk for men getting breast cancer is an estimated 1 in 1,000, much less than in women, and the number of yearly cases has remained stable for the last 30 years, though another report (see video) stated it’s been on the increase since 1975.
It was at one time thought that the prognosis for men with breast cancer was worse than that for women, however current information confirms that the prognosis for survival and recovery is about the same as for women, however because these cancers are often diagnosed at a later stage they are less likely to be cured.
A recent American Cancer Society report estimated that there were approximately 1,910 new cases of invasive male breast cancer, and that about 440 men will have died from breast cancer for 2009.
The types of breast cancer found in men are:
Infiltrating ductal carcinoma-cancer that spreads beyond the linings of the ducts to grow in the fatty tissues of the breast, often starting in or spreading to the nipple
Ductal carcinoma in-situ-abnormal cells found in the ductal lining (also called intraductal carcinoma)
Inflammatory breast cancer-cancer where the breast tissue feels hot and looks swollen
Paget’s disease of the nipple-were a tumor has grown from ducts beneath the surface of the nipple
Though mens’ breast tissue has ducts and very little fatty tissue, it has few if any lobules, therefore types of lobular carcinoma are extremely rare.
Common risks for male breast cancer include:
High levels of estrogen
Family history of breast cancer for women or men
Inherited genetic mutations-hereditary breast cancer makes up about 5-10% of all breast cancer
Diseases associated with elevated estrogen levels like cirrhosis of the liver, Klinefelter syndrome (a rare genetic disorder), or obesity
Men with breast cancer usually have lumps that can be felt. The cancer is staged the same as for women’s breast cancer, and the cancer can spread through metastasis to the chest wall, lymph nodes or other areas as in women’s breast cancer.
Men can be at risk for benign breast tumors, however this is extremely rare. Gynecomastia is the most common benign male breast, characterized by a disk-like growth under the nipple or areola which can be felt or seen. This is more common among teenage boys and older men for the reason that men in both of these age groups experience hormonal fluctuation, which can contribute to abnormal growth of breast tissue.