Male breast cancer is sporadic and often affects older men. The disease presents a hard lump underneath the areola and nipple. Men with breast cancer have high mortality rates as compared to women. One reason is a lack of awareness, which causes a delay in seeking immediate treatment.
The majority of male breast cancer cases are associated with infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC), where the cells within or near the ducts will start invading the surrounding tissues. In rare cases, men are diagnosed with Paget disease or inflammatory breast cancer.
The main risk factors for male breast cancer include high levels of estrogen, radiation exposure to the chest, gynecomastia (usually from poisonous substances, infections, and drug or hormone treatments), cirrhosis, Klinefelter’s syndrome, orchitis, obesity, and family history of BRCA2 gene breast cancer. The risk also increases as men get older between age 60 and 70.
The symptoms, survival rates, and treatment for male breast cancer are similar to those in women. If you observe swelling or lump in your breast or bleeding in the nipple, you should immediately seek medical attention. Early detection will enable effective treatment and increased survival rates.
Genetic counseling and testing are recommended for men with breast cancer. The purpose is to determine the likelihood of future breast cancer diagnosis in their family if they test positive for defective genes such as BRCA1 or BRCA2. Men with a genetic propensity to breast cancer have a high risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age.
Male children of men with breast cancer who inherit the BRCA2 gene have about 6% chances of developing cancer, while those who inherit the BRCA1 gene have 1%.
Female children of male breast cancer patients who inherit defective genes (BRCA1 & BRCA2) have a 40% – 80% risk of developing breast cancer.
Diagnostic techniques for male breast cancer include mammography, physical examinations, and biopsies. Surgery, immunotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy are the treatment options available for male breast cancer.
The advantage men with breast cancer have over women with the same disease is that they respond better to hormone therapy. About 90% of the male breast cancers are known to have hormone receptors, and hormone therapy works well in treating most cases.
However, most men tend to ignore early symptoms of breast cancer, causing late diagnosis, which makes it harder to treat their disease.