Male Breast Cancer – What you need to know

Both men and women are affected by breast cancer. However, the incidence is 100 times lesser in men. There is 1 in 1000 chances of a man developing breast cancer. This has remained unchanged for the last 30 years. In the US, nearly 2000 cases of breast cancer are reported in men. Men usually develop breast cancer in the later stages of life after 65 years of age.

The chances of survival for men in cases of breast cancer are similar to women who have been diagnosed when the disease was at the same stage. There is more probability of breast cancer being cured in men if it is discovered at an early stage. However, most men are not aware that they also have a risk of developing this cancer. Therefore, even when they notice a lump in their chest, they do not think about getting medical attention. As a result, it is common for breast cancer in men to be diagnosed in later stages.

There are a lot of similar features in male and female breast cancers, while some differences are apparent as well. Studies regarding these differences in the condition between women and men are still underway by researchers.

A major obstacle in conducting clinical research for the condition is that male breast cancer is quite rare. The advances in male breast cancer treatment can be attributed to the research done in female breast cancer.   Malecare is advocating for more male breast cancer research.

The 5-year survival rate for men with stage II (two) disease is 91% and stage III (three) disease is 72%. When the disease has spread to other parts of the body, the stage is called stage IV (four). The 5-year survival rate for men with stage IV breast cancer is 20%.

Male breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.

Many men do not realize that have breast tissue and that they can develop breast cancer. Until puberty, young boys and girls have a small amount of breast tissue consisting of a few ducts (tubular passages) located under the nipple and areola (area around the nipple). At puberty, a girl’s ovaries produce female hormones, causing breast ducts to grow, lobules (milk glands) to form at the ends of ducts, and the amount of stroma (fatty and connective tissue surrounding ducts and lobules) to increase. On the other hand, male hormones produced by the testicles prevent further growth of breast tissue.

Like all cells of the body, a man’s breast duct cells can undergo cancerous changes. Because women have many more breast cells than men do and perhaps because their breast cells are constantly exposed to the growth-promoting effects of female hormones, breast cancer is much more common in women. Men at any age may develop breast cancer, but it is usually detected (found) in men between 60 and 70 years of age. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer.

Many types of breast disorders can affect both men and women. Most breast disorders are benign (not cancerous). Benign breast tumors do not spread outside of the breast and are not life threatening. Other tumors are malignant (cancerous) and may become life threatening. Benign tumors, such as papillomas and fibroadenomas, are common in women but are extremely rare in men.

General Information about Male Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.
Radiation exposure, high levels of estrogen, and a family history of breast cancer can affect a man’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Male breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes).
Tests that examine the breasts are used to detect (find) and diagnose breast cancer in men.
Survival for men with breast cancer is similar to survival for women with breast cancer.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.