Breast Cancer Review

Male Breast Cancer

Breast cancer does not happen exclusively in women. For men, any change in a breast, including lumps, swellings or pain, should be investigated. For every 100 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, one man will also develop it.

The breast tissue of a man is similar to a woman’s; men just have less of it and much fewer ducts and lobules. Like women, these tissues are subject to change, however, happening more often for men in their 60s and 70s. The most common type of breast cancer in men is the same as in women, ductal carcinomas. Once the questionable area is examined, the testing to determine the stage of his breast cancer moves forward, so that the correct stage may be established and the best treatment plan may be prescribed.

This will usually include a biopsy of the tumor, either through its surgical removal or the use of a thin needle or core needle biopsy. The removed cells are then sent to a laboratory where a pathologist studies them under microscope, determining if the sample is from a benign tumor or a malignant cancer. If it is a malignancy, the doctor will also determine the type of cancer and its invasiveness. At this point, other tests may be performed on the sample as well. Again, if this is a malignant growth, this pathological examination and other tests are part of the process used to determine the extent of the breast cancer, using standardized levels (called stages).

It seems that high amounts of estrogen in the body, characterizing some other disease conditions, like cirrhosis of the liver, may contribute to breast cancer in men. Also, exposure to radiation has been determined to be a risk factor. Studies show that if the man has female relatives with breast cancer, his chances of developing the disease rise. Like for females, this may be due to mutations in his BRCA2 gene..

Once the stage of breast cancer is set, the man’s treatment will be like that for a woman. The type of surgery, the use of radiation, the type of chemotherapy, the use of hormonal therapy – basically, the treatment will consist of whatever is deemed necessary from the stage level of his breast cancer. The recovery from breast cancer in men is the same as in women with cancer at the same stage; a problem for men is their discovery of lumps in more advanced stages.

Because men are not taught to do breast self-exams and because physicians do not routinely perform breast exams on their male patients, sometimes the lumps go unnoticed. Also, there may be a small degree of embarrassment (and a subsequent delay getting to a doctor) that a man could have a disease usually considered a problem for women only. These are reasons for the important need to get information about breast cancer in men out to the male population.

Janet Brown is a medical writer and graduate of Loyola University New Orleans. Her personal experiences with breast cancer have drawn her to her current work developing breast cancer patient education and awareness materials. She currently lives in Georgia.

Breast Cancer Resources

American Cancer Society

People Living With Cancer

United States National Library of Medicine

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

Health Coverage from Health Insurance .org

WebMD Health

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

National Cancer Institute

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Y-ME National Breast Cancer Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Women’s Information Network Against Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

Cancer News On the Net

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition

Mothers Supporting Daughters With Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Online

National Breast Cancer Coalition

Breast Cancer Fund

Breast Cancer Action

Breast Cancer Care

Breast Cancer Campaign

Cancer BACUP

Canadian Breast Cancer Network

Breast Cancer Society of Canada

Breast Cancer Action – Ottawa

Info Breast Cancer

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

National Breast Cancer Centre

National Breast Cancer Foundation

New South Wales Breast Cancer Institute

Breast Cancer Stages
Known Risk Factors
Breast Cancer Survival
Recurrence Information
Breast Cancer Metastasis
Detection and Diagnosis
Male Breast Cancer

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