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Male Breast Cancer

More than one thousand men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 460 lives will be lost to male breast cancer this year alone. Even with these high numbers, male breast cancer accounts for less than one percent of all breast cancer cases. Though men can develop breast cancer at any age, male breast cancer most commonly develops in men between the ages of 60 and 70.

Types of Male Breast Cancer

In female breast cancer, tumors develop most commonly in the lobules which are the milk producing glands or in the ducts which carry milk from the lobules to the nipples. Lobular breast cancer has not been reported in men, but male breast cancer can develop in the ducts.

There are four types of male breast cancer.

  • Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma - The most common type of male breast cancer. It is cancer that has spread from the lining of the ducts to other tissues.
  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ - Male breast cancer that has not spread beyond the lining of a duct in the breast.
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer - The breast becomes warm, red, and swollen.
  • Paget's Disease of the Nipple - The tumor grows in the ducts beneath the nipple and onto the surface.
Risk Factors For Male Breast Cancer

Researchers have found that a family history of breast cancer, exposure to radiation, and high levels of estrogen can increase one's risk of developing male breast cancer. Cirrhosis (liver disease) and Klinefelter's syndrome are two conditions that can cause an increase in estrogen levels and may increase one's risk for male breast cancer. Men with a family history of several female relatives with a BRCA2 gene alteration (see genetics and breast cancer) may also be at increased risk.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Men with male breast cancer typically develop palpable lumps and changes in the breast are noticeable. A biopsy is the only way to make a certain diagnosis of male breast cancer.

Like female breast cancer, male breast cancer is classified into stages based on the severity and invasiveness of the cancer. Generally speaking, the survival rate associated with male breast cancer is on par with the prognosis for female breast cancer. Male breast cancer prognosis depends on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer, the characteristics of the cancerous cells, the patient's age and general health, and whether or not both breasts are affected.

Male breast cancer is treated much the same as female breast cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy are all possible male breast cancer treatment options.

Contact A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Near You

If you are a male breast cancer survivor, the effects of surgery may not be as noticeable to others as it would be for a female mastectomy. However, that does not negate the fact that it may have left unsightly scars. Breast recontruction can help you move on. Please contact us to speak with a qualified plastic surgeon who can help you explore your recontructive options.