Cancer Pro, the voice of the world’s cancer physicians, oncology professionals and the trusted compassionate resource for people with cancer, their families and caregivers, are proud to be supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In this edition of our weekly blog, we are going to explore how breast cancer can affect men.
Throughout the last few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about breast cancer and the effects it can have on women, but, we’ve never talked about how men are associated with this terrible disease. Many people do not realise that men have breast tissue and that they can develop breast cancer.
Breast cancer in men is rare, and current research suggests that less than one per cent of all breast cancer cases develop in men. Only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer and it is most prevalent in men between the ages of 60 – 70 years old, but that’s not to say younger men cannot be affected.
What causes male breast cancer?
While it is not clear what the exact causes of male breast cancer are, certain factors may increase the risk, such as:
- Age – The incidence of breast cancer in men increases with age. Male breast cancer occurs most frequently in men over 60.
- Family history of breast cancer – Family history of breast cancer, Doctors think that 10 – 20% of male breast cancers are due to inherited faulty genes.
- High oestrogen levels – The hormone oestrogen can stimulate the development of breast cancer. Men naturally have small amounts of oestrogen in their bodies.
- Radiation – Men exposed to radiation over long periods may face an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
What are the symptoms of male breast cancer?
The most common symptom is usually a firm, painless lump on the chest, that is, found close to the nipple. However, other symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the breast
- Ulceration on the breast or nipple
- A tender or inverted nipple
- Rash on or around the nipple
- Lump in the underarm area
- Oozing discharge from the nipple, sometimes with blood
Any change in the breast area, including the nipple, can be a symptom of male breast cancer.
How is male breast cancer treated?
Treatment for breast cancer in men is the same as breast cancer in women. Treatment aims to remove cancer and try to prevent it from recurring or spreading to other parts of the body.
Typically Doctors will decide on the most appropriate treatment or combination of treatments, based on the type of breast cancer, the size of cancer, and how far it has spread, and so on.
Treatments for breast cancer in men may include:
- Surgery – Is usually the first option in the treatment of male breast cancer. There are two main types of operation, mastectomy which involves removing the whole breast, including the nipple and lymph nodes. Less commonly, is a lumpectomy, where the cancer, along with a border of surrounding normal breast tissue, gets removed.
- Radiotherapy – High-energy X-rays destroy cancer cells. Radiotherapy may be offered after surgery to help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring.
- Chemotherapy – Anti-cancer drugs destroy cancer cells. There are various types of chemotherapy drugs and, Chemotherapy may be offered, before or after surgery.
- Hormone therapy – This aims to block the effect of oestrogen on cancer cells. The drug tamoxifen is used in hormone therapy for men and usually has to be taken, for five years.
- Targeted cancer drug therapy – Drugs are given to prevent the cancer from growing and spreading, by directly targeting cells in the body.
- Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy is a medication. That harnesses the body’s immune system, and allows it to recognise, and, destroy cancer cells.
Get checked now
Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less, and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.
While the majority of men diagnosed are over the age of 50, there is no shame in visiting a doctor if you think you are showing any signs of breast cancer.
Early detection and treatment not only saves lives, but it also increases the chances of survival. If you suspect you may have male breast cancer, consult a doctor as soon as possible – don’t wait till it’s too late.
For more information regarding male Breast Cancer, please visit www. cancer-pro.com.