Male Breast Cancer: Isn’t it Only a Female Disease?

Male Breast Cancer: Isn’t it Only a Female Disease?
Male Breast Cancer: Isn’t it Only a Female Disease?

Breast diseases are generally associated with women’s health. Nonetheless, men are also susceptible to breast diseases, including cancerous. Many people forget that men have the same breasts (well, not quite the same, but still …) as well as women, and they, like women, have chances of breast cancer. Of course, their chances are considerably fewer but they exist and can not be discounted.

Breast cancer – is a cancerous tumor that began to develop in breast tissues. Anatomy of the Male BreastLet’s face it: in men it is diagnosed quite rare. For comparison, this type of cancer in women is diagnosed 100 times more often. The chances for men to get breast cancer are 1 in 1000. These figures remain unchanged for the past 30 years, i.e. that there is no increased morbidity (as it occurs with some other types of cancer).

As for the medical prognosis, it was previously thought that it is slightly worse for men than for women, but recent research refute this thesis and give both sexes absolutely equal chances of survival.

Types of male breast cancer

Just list them with a few explanations:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ or non-invasive ductal carcinoma. The tumor is formed in the ducts of the breast, but does not spread to the fatty tissue and beyond the breast. It makes up 10% of all detected cases of breast cancer in men. Almost always it is successfully surgically treated;
  • Infiltrative Ductal carcinoma. In contrast to the previous type of cancer it spreads to the fatty tissue and can metastasize to other organs and tissues. It accounts for 80% of all detected cases of breast cancer in men;
  • Infiltrative lobular carcinoma. This cancer begins its destructive activity in the lobules of the breast (clusters of cells that produce breast milk in women), and then spreads into the fatty tissue. In men, it is extremely rare;
  • Paget’s disease. This type of cancer begins in the ducts and spreads to the nipple or areola;
  • Edematous-infiltrative breast cancer. It is an aggressive, but rare type of cancer.

How to identify breast cancer in men in the early stages

There are a lot of similarities between male and female breast cancer, but there are important differences affecting its early detection.

  1. The size of the breast. This is the most obvious difference between the female and male breasts; the smaller size makes it easier to detect breast tumors. On the other hand, men need to be more careful: due to the small size of the breast, the tumor can spread to nearby organs and tissues faster and to start metastasizing.
  2. Lack of awareness. Many men think that breast cancer – is “not about them”, and do not pay enough attention to alarming symptoms manifested suddenly. They think about an infection or anything else, but can not even imagine that it might be cancer. Some men are afraid to question their masculinity. This can delay the visit to a doctor and, as a result – reduce the chances of a successful outcome.

If in the family there were cases of breast cancer (and, no matter male or female), the man should have all necessary diagnostic examinations in this case. For example, it is used genetic testing to detect mutations of BRCA-gene. As for genetic testing, if BRCA mutations were discovered, a man should be regularly monitored.

Risk factors

  • Age, typically over 60 years;
  • Radiation exposure of the chest in anamnesis (for example, the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma);
  • Gynecomastia due to taking estrogen / drugs / poisons, after an infection after surgical castration;
  • A family history of cancer (male or female);
  • Klinefelter’s syndrome (a genetic disorder in men, characterized by the presence of an extra X chromosome);
  • cirrhosis of the liver;
  • Diseases of the testicles (orchitis due to mumps, testicular trauma, cryptorchidism);
  • Obesity – the body mass index of 30 or greater.


The most common symptoms of the disease:

  • Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer Discharge from the nipple, which may be bloody;
  • Swelling of the breasts;
  • Palpable tumor in the breast area;
  • Pain in the nipple;
  • Ulcers on the skin of the chest wall;
  • Retraction of the nipple;
  • Enlarged axillary lymph nodes.


The choice of the therapy depends on the stage of the disease and is similar to the treatment of breast cancer in women: surgery, neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targentnaya therapy, bisphosphonates. In 85% of cases of a tumor is hormone sensitive, that is why hormone therapy is widely used in the treatment of this cancer.


  • If breast cancer was diagnosed in men in the family, then his close relatives (sisters, daughters and granddaughters) should take the analysis on a genetic predisposition to this type of cancer.
  • It is important to know that an increase of both breasts is usually not a sign of cancer. It is often – gynecomastia. Such an increase of the breast is usually a result of taking certain medications, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and even the use of marijuana. But most cases of breast cancer in men are associated with gynecomastia.
  • It was shown in one of the studies that the incidence of breast cancer among men has increased by 25% over the period from 1973 to 1988. However, even despite this fact, this pathology is still rare.

Male breast cancer pictures

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