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Male Breast Cancer Fact Sheet

August 5, 2019

Male breast cancer is a rare cancer that forms in the breast tissue of men. Though
breast cancer is most commonly thought of as a disease that affects women, breast
cancer does occur in men. Male breast cancer is most common in older men, though
it can occur at any age.

Men diagnosed with male breast cancer at an early stage have a good chance for a
cure. Treatment typically involves surgery to remove the breast tissue. Other
treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, may also be recommended.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of male breast cancer can include:

  • A painless lump or thickening in the breast tissue
  • Changes to the breast skin, such as dimpling, puckering, redness or scaling
  • Changes to the nipple, such as redness or scaling, or inward turning of nipple
  • Discharge emitted from the nipple

Make an appointment with a doctor upon any persistent signs or symptoms.

Causal Understanding

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.

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. Nearly all male breast cancer is ductal carcinoma.

Inherited Genes

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,
bring greater risk of developing breast and prostate cancers.

A strong family history of cancer should be discussed with a doctor. A doctor may
recommend meeting with a genetic counselor in order to consider genetic testing to
see if there may be an inherited genetic risk of cancer.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk of male breast cancer include:

  • Older age. The risk of breast cancer increases as men age. Male breast cancer is
    most often diagnosed in men in their 60s.
  • Exposure to estrogen. If one takes estrogen-related drugs, such as those used
    for hormone therapy for prostate cancer, risk of breast cancer is increased.
  • Family history of breast cancer. A close family member with breast cancer,
    points to 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 risk of breast cancer.
  • Obesity. Obesity is associated with higher levels of estrogen in the body, which
    also increases the risk of male breast cancer.
  • Testicle disease or surgery. Having inflamed testicles (orchitis) or surgery to
    remove a testicle (orchiectomy) can increase risk of male breast cancer.

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Serving the Residents of Kendall County Since 1966
811 W. John Street, Yorkville, IL 60560   •   630-553-9100