Although men do not have breasts as women do, they still have a small amount of breast tissue and an adult man has breasts that are similar to the breasts of a girl before she enters puberty. In women, the breast tissue grows in puberty whereas in men it does not, as mentioned on Web Md.
But, since there is still breast tissue present, men can get breast cancer same as women; however, breast cancers with parts that produce and store milk are quite rare in men. The level of seriousness of breast cancer is now considered by doctors to be almost the same in both men and women.
One of the main issues when it comes to breast cancer in men is that it is frequently diagnosed much later than that in women due to the fact that they may be less suspicious of changes happening in this part of their body.
In most cases, the risk of getting breast cancer in men increases with age, i.e. it mostly occurs between the ages of 60 and 70, even though it may also happen earlier, but seldom when a man is younger than the age of 35.
Unfortunately, the occurrence of male breast cancer has been exponentially growing in the last 4 decades, as noted on The Truth about Cancer, though it remains considered rare in conventional medical standards.
What Are the Causes for Male Breast Cancer?
According to Mayo Clinic, the exact reason behind male breast cancer remains unknown. What doctors do know is that it happens when some breast cells start dividing more rapidly than healthy cells and as a result, the deposits of cells create a tumor which may also spread to surrounding tissue, for example, the lymph nodes and other body parts.
Men can be diagnosed with the following breast cancer types, as explained on Mayo Clinic:
• Cancers that develop in the milk ducts, also known as ductal carcinoma
• Cancers that develop in the milk-producing glands- the rarest breast cancer type in women due to the only few lobules in their breast tissue
• Other types of breast cancers like Paget’s disease of the nipples and inflammatory breast cancer
Major Risk Factors for Male Breast Cancer
Having a close family member or a relative who has been diagnosed with male breast cancer puts you at a higher risk of the illness.
As men age, their chance for breast cancer elevates; so, most of male breast cancer cases are diagnosed after the age of 60.
• Excessive weight
Obesity is linked with higher amounts of estrogen in the body that have been associated with breast cancer in men.
• Testicle illness or testicle surgery
Inflamed testicles or undergoing surgery for removal of testicles may elevate the chance for male breast cancer.
• Liver illness
Diseases like cirrhosis can lower the male hormones and heighten the female ones and thus, put you at a higher risk of breast cancer.
• Estrogen exposure
Taking estrogen drugs, for example, those that are used for hormonal therapy for prostate cancer may put you at a higher risk of breast cancer.
What Are the Major Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer?
According to NHS, one of the major symptoms of breast cancer in men is a lump in the breasts, as well as nipple skin changes. When the lumps are cancerous, they usually develop in one breast only and under or around the nipple, do not cause pain, are hard when touched or rubber-like, they do not move around with the breast and are not smooth, but bumpier, and their size increases with time.
When it comes to lumps and swellings in the breast in men, it is pivotal to note that not all of these changes indicate cancer. Sometimes, as emphasized on NHS, they may be a symptom of lipoma, cysts, or enlarged male breast tissue known as gynaecomastia, all of which are relatively harmless.
In addition to the previously-mentioned symptoms of male breast cancer, there can also be other accompanying symptoms such as the following ones:
• Nipples that suddenly turn inwards
• Nipple discharge with blood
• Rashes and sores around the nipples that do not heal
• Nipples that become red, swollen or hardened
• Bumps in the armpit
In case the cancer metastases to other areas of the body like the lungs, liver or bones, the patient may experience the following symptoms:
• Fatigue that does not go away
• Pain in the bones
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling sick all the time
• Itchy skin
According to Web Md, male breast cancer is diagnosed with the help of the same methods used to diagnose female breast cancer. These methods include physical exams, biopsy, and mammography. Similarly, the treatments for female breast cancer are also used for breast cancers in men, including radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, hormonal therapy, and biological therapy.
Statistics suggests that men who are diagnosed with breast cancer respond better to hormonal therapy than women because around 90 percent of the breast cancers that happen in men have hormone receptors.
Can Male Breast Cancer Be Prevented?
According to Medicine Net, complete prevention of this type of cancer is not yet possible. Nonetheless, there are a lot of healthy lifestyle habits that may minimize your risk of getting this disease, for example, maintaining a balanced weight through healthy diet and working out on a regular basis.
This is why, as seen on The Truth about Cancer, men should be advised and encouraged to practice early breast cancer detection methods as women are, including mammography and tests such as the Greece and the Oncoblot.