Men Can Develop Breast Cancer, Too
Breast cancer is usually considered a condition that only women can develop, but men can also be affected. According to statistics, about 2,350 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States in 2015.
This type of cancer is a rare cancer that can occur at any age, but it is most common in older men. Male breast cancer can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage. However, most men ignore the usual symptoms such as breast lumps and are diagnosed at an advanced stage of the disease.
Symptoms and causes of male breast cancer
The following are the most common symptoms of male breast cancer. Men who have any worrying persistent symptoms should see their doctor.
- a painless breast lump in the breast tissue
- skin changes in the breast area that include redness, dimpling, or wrinkling
- discharge from the nipple
- nipple changes like redness or distortions
Doctors do not know for sure what causes this rare type of cancer in men. They do know that it occurs due to a rapid division of certain breast cells. These cells accumulate and form a tumor. A tumor is likely to spread to nearby tissue and other body parts.
Factors that increase male breast cancer risk
- Men usually develop breast cancer between the ages of 68 and 71. The risk increases as they get older.
- Men who have a family member with a breast cancer have higher risk of developing male breast cancer.
- Men with Klinefelter's syndrome produce more female hormones than male hormones because they are born with more than one copy of the X chromosome.
- Obesity and liver disease can both cause a reduction of male hormones, which increases breast cancer risk.
- Exposure to chest radiation can increase the risk of male breast cancer.
- Testicle disease or orchiectomy (surgical removal of a testicle) can also increase male breast cancer risk.
When male breast cancer diagnosis is concerned, the doctor may ask a patient to undergo a number of procedures and tests to detect the disease. Some of them include clinical breast exams where a doctor examines breasts for lumps and other changes using the fingertips. Ultrasound and mammogram are used for detecting breast tissue masses. A fine needle biopsy is another test for revealing whether a patient has breast cancer and if so, what type.
A patient’s health, the cancer stage and his or her preferences are considered when determining treatment options for male breast cancer. The most common treatments include:
Surgery. This procedure involves removal of the tumor and nearby breast tissue. Removal can include all of the breast tissue (nipple, areola and underarm lymph nodes).
Radiation. This treatment is often used after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells where necessary.
Chemotherapy. This treatment uses drugs that can be administered in the form of a pill or intravenously. Chemotherapy is usually recommended after surgery and can be prescribed to patients with advanced breast cancer.
Hormone therapy. In cases of hormone-sensitive cancers, hormone therapy is recommended. It usually involves the drug tamoxifen, one of the rare medications that have proven to be effective in men.
Being diagnosed with cancer can be upsetting. It is important to learn how to cope with challenges of cancer. Talking with someone and sharing feelings can be helpful. Various exercises can be mood boosters. Find out from your doctor what exercises and activities are right for you.
Image source: cancer.gov