About male breast cancer
What is male breast cancer?
What is male breast cancer?
Men possess a small amount of nonfunctioning breast tissue (breast tissue that cannot produce milk) that is concentrated in the area directly behind the nipple on the chest wall. Like breast cancer in women, cancer of the male breast is the uncontrolled growth with the potential for spread of some of the cells of this breast tissue. These cells become so abnormal in appearance and behavior that they are then called cancer cells.
Breast tissue in both young boys and girls consists of tubular structures known as ducts. At puberty, a girl's ovaries produce female hormones (estrogen) that cause the ducts to grow and milk glands (lobules) to develop at the ends of the ducts. The amount of fat and connective tissue in the breast also increases as girls go through puberty. On the other hand, male hormones (such as testosterone) secreted by the testes suppress the growth of breast tissue and the development of lobules. The male breast, therefore, is made up of predominantly small, undeveloped ducts and a small amount of fat and connective tissue.
How common is male breast cancer?
Male breast cancer is a rare condition, accounting for only about 1% of all breast cancers. Statistics from the American Cancer Society suggest that in 2015, about 2,350 new cases of breast cancer in men would be diagnosed and that breast cancer would cause approximately 440 deaths in men (in comparison, almost 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year). Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men. Most cases of male breast cancer are detected in men between the ages of 60 and 70, although the condition can develop in men of any age. A man's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about 1/10 of 1%, or one in 1,000. Breast cancer incidence rates in men have remained fairly stable over the past 30 years.
What are the symptoms for male breast cancer?
Signs and symptoms of male breast cancer can include:
- A painless lump or thickening in your breast tissue
- Changes to the skin covering your breast, such as dimpling, puckering, Redness or scaling
- Changes to your nipple, such as Redness or scaling, or a nipple that begins to turn inward
- Discharge from your nipple
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any persistent signs or symptoms that worry you.
What are the causes for male breast cancer?
It's not clear what causes male breast cancer.
Doctors know that male breast cancer occurs when some breast cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells do. The accumulating cells form a tumor that may spread (metastasize) to nearby tissue, to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.
Where breast cancer begins in men
Everyone is born with a small amount of breast tissue. Breast tissue consists of milk-producing glands (lobules), ducts that carry milk to the nipples, and fat.
During puberty, women begin developing more breast tissue, and men do not. But because men are born with a small amount of breast tissue, they can develop breast cancer.
Types of breast cancer diagnosed in men include:
- Cancer that begins in the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma). Nearly all male breast cancer is ductal carcinoma.
- Cancer that begins in the milk-producing glands (lobular carcinoma). This type is rare in men because they have few lobules in their breast tissue.
- Other types of cancer. Other, rarer types of breast cancer that can occur in men include Paget's disease of the nipple and inflammatory breast cancer.
Inherited genes that increase breast cancer risk
Some men inherit abnormal (mutated) genes from their parents that increase the risk of breast cancer. Mutations in one of several genes, especially a gene called BRCA2, put you at greater risk of developing breast and prostate cancers.
If you have a strong family history of cancer, discuss this with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend that you meet with a genetic counselor in order to consider genetic testing to see if you carry genes that increase your risk of cancer.
What are the treatments for male breast cancer?
The most common type of male breast cancer is infiltrating ductal carcinoma, which is also a common type of breast cancer in women. Ductal carcinoma refers to cancers with origins in the ducts (tubular structures) of the breast, and the term infiltrating means that the cancer cells have spread beyond the ducts into the surrounding tissue. On the other hand, lobular cancers (cancers of the milk glands), common in women, are extremely rare in men since male breast tissue does not normally contain lobules.
Other uncommon types of cancers of the breast that have been reported in men include ductal carcinoma in situ (cancer in the ducts that has not spread beyond the ducts themselves), cystosarcoma phylloides (a type of cancer of the connective tissue surrounding the ducts), and Paget's disease of the breast (a cancer involving the skin of the nipple). Some other types of breast cancer that occur in men are named for their growth patterns and microscopic appearance of the cancer cells, including papillary carcinoma, inflammatory carcinoma, and medullary carcinoma.
About 85% of breast cancers in men have estrogen receptors on their cell membranes. Estrogen receptors on the cell membranes allow estrogen molecules to bind to the cancer cells. Estrogen binding to the cancer cells can stimulate cell growth and multiplication.
What are the risk factors for male breast cancer?
Factors that increase the risk of male breast cancer include:
- Older age. The risk of breast cancer increases as you age. Male breast cancer is most often diagnosed in men in their 60s.
- Exposure to estrogen. If you take estrogen-related drugs, such as those used for hormone therapy for prostate cancer, your risk of breast cancer is increased.
- Family history of breast cancer. If you have a close family member with breast cancer, you have a greater chance of developing the disease.
- Klinefelter's syndrome. This genetic syndrome occurs when boys are born with more than one copy of the X chromosome. Klinefelter's syndrome causes abnormal development of the testicles. As a result, men with this syndrome produce lower levels of certain male hormones (androgens) and more female hormones (estrogens).
- Liver disease. Certain conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver, can reduce male hormones and increase female hormones, increasing your risk of breast cancer.
- Obesity. Obesity is associated with higher levels of estrogen in the body, which increases the risk of male breast cancer.
- Testicle disease or surgery. Having inflamed testicles (orchitis) or surgery to remove a testicle (orchiectomy) can increase your risk of male breast cancer.
Is there a cure/medications for male breast cancer?
Cure/medications for male breast cancer:
Male breast cancer treatment often involves surgery and may also include other treatments.
The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and surrounding breast tissue. The procedures include:
(i) Removing all of the breast tissue (mastectomy): This is a procedure where the surgeon removes all of your breast tissue, including the nipple and areola.
(ii) Removing a few lymph nodes for testing (sentinel lymph node biopsy): The doctor identifies the lymph nodes most likely to be the first place your cancer cells would spread. If no cancer cells are present then there is a good chance that your breast cancer hasn't spread beyond your breast tissue. If cancer is found, additional lymph nodes are removed for testing.
2. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells. In male breast cancer, radiation therapy may be used after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells in the breast, chest muscles or armpit. During radiation therapy, radiation comes from a large machine that moves around your body, directing the energy beams to precise points on your chest.
3. Hormone therapy
Most men with male breast cancer have tumors that rely on hormones to grow (hormone-sensitive). If your cancer is hormone-sensitive, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy. Hormone therapy for male breast cancer often involves the medication tamoxifen. Other hormone therapy medications that are used in women with breast cancer haven't been shown to be effective for men.
Chemotherapy is suggested to kill cancer cells. These medications may be administered through a vein in your arm (intravenously), in pill form or by both methods. Your doctor might recommend chemotherapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might have spread outside your breast. Chemotherapy may also be an option for men with advanced breast cancer.
A painless lump or thickening in your breast tissue,Changes to the skin covering your breast, such as dimpling, puckering, redness or scaling,Changes to your nipple, such as redness or scaling, or a nipple that begins to turn inward,Discharge from your nipple
Surgery,Chemotherapy,Radiation therapy,Targeted therapy,Hormonal therapy,Immunotherapy