Male Breast Cancer

Male breast cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissue of the breast. Breast cancer occurs mainly in women, but men are not immune. Breast lumps and other abnormalities are often easy to find out on men, but detection gets delayed. Men tend to detect late because of ignorance. Low level of awareness among men worsens things. So there is an urgent need to make men aware that breast cancer is not limited to women.

Men can get breast cancer, but compare to women it is much less common in men. Globally it is estimated that for 170 breast cancer cases among women, there is only one male afflicted with the disease. In short, breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men.

Breast tissues in men and women have the same types, but it is smaller in men. Therefore, the cancerous cells affect the chest wall, and can spread to other organs easily.

Main Reasons for Breast Cancer in Men

1. Getting Older

Ageing is a key risk factor for the development of male breast cancer. Breast cancer in men occurs more commonly in those aged 60 years and older.

2. Family History

Men who have several blood relatives (either men or women) with breast cancer have an increased risk for development of the disease. Study proves that about 20 per cent of men with breast cancer have close relatives with the same disease.

3. Inherited Gene Mutation

If a person has inherited a muted gene from either parent, there is a higher chance for developing breast cancer. The inherited mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 tumor suppressor genes are responsible for some kinds of breast cancer in men. About 15% of this disease in men is thought to be attributable to BRCA2 mutation. Recent studies suggest that the chance for breast cancer in men due to BRCA1 mutation is only 1%.

4. Klinefelter's Syndrome

Klinefelter's syndrome is a rare genetic condition where a man is born with an extra female chromosome. So he is XXY instead of XY. Compared with other men they have high quantity of a female hormone called estrogen. This makes the breast cancer risk the same as for the average women.

5. Heavy Alcohol Intake

Heavy alcohol intake can put men at risk. This is because of the liver plays a key role in sex-hormone metabolism by producing binding proteins that carry hormones in the blood. These proteins affect hormonal activity. Men with severe liver disease have lower levels of androgen activity and higher estrogen levels. This increases the risk of developing gynecomastia and breast cancer.

6. Estrogen Related Drugs

Estrogen related drugs used in hormonal therapy for men with prostate cancer slightly increase the risk of breast cancer in males. But the risk is small compared to the benefits of the treatment in slowing the growth of prostate cancer.

7. Obesity

Obesity is a risk factor for male breast cancer as fat cells convert male hormones (androgens) into female hormones (estrogens); obese men have higher levels of estrogens.

8. Occupation

Some reports have suggested that there is an increased risk of breast cancer in men those who work in hot conditions, like steel mills.

Types of Breast Cancer in Men

1. Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)

This is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. This kind of breast cancer never spread beyond the breast duct into any normal surrounding breast tissue. DCIS accounts for about 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer in men. But DCIS isn't life-threatening, it is curable with surgery.

2. Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS)

LCIS is an area of abnormal tissue growth that occurs within the lobules located at the end of the breast ducts. This is a precancerous condition and does not directly lead to breast cancer and it is very rare in men.

3. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

It is also called Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma and it is the most common type of breast cancer. It breaks out of the duct tubes, and invades, or infiltrates, surrounding tissues. IDC accounts for about 8 out of 10 male breast cancers.

4. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)

This kind of breast cancer starts in the breast lobules, but later these cells invade, or infiltrate, the nearby tissue outside of the lobes. ILC is very rare in men because like women, men do not have much lobular tissues.

5. Paget Disease of the Nipple

Paget's disease of the nipple is a type of cancer that forms in or around the nipple. It accounts a higher percentage of male breast cancer. But it is very rare in female.

Male Breast Cancer Symptoms

1. Thickening of the breast.

2. Redness, dryness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin.

3. Inversion of nipple (nipple turning inward).

4. Spontaneous, clear or bloody discharge from nipple.

5. Lump mass or swelling in breast, nipple or chest wall.

6. Skin dimpling or crinkling.

7. Retraction or indentation on nipple.

The Treatment for Breast Cancer

1. Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is more widely used in treating the disease in men. This form of treatment can be very effective against hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer - having either estrogen or progesterone receptors present in the cancer. About 9 out of 10 breast cancers in men have hormone receptors on the surface of their cells -- that is, their cancers are estrogen receptor (ER)-positive and/or progesterone receptor (PR)-positive.

2. Mastectomy

Mastectomy is a surgical treatment to prevent breast cancer. A mastectomy involves the surgical removal of the breast or both breasts. The entire breast can be removed or partially. Treatments for men with breast cancer are based largely on accepted regimens for women with the disease.

3. Lymph Node Biopsy

Lymph node biopsy is a test in which a lymph node or a piece of a lymph node is removed for examination under a microscope. Male breast cancer although relatively rare, has typically been treated with lymph nod biopsy.

4. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses high levels of radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation can also be used for men with advanced disease to relieve symptoms or help avoid complications from specific areas of spread.

5. Chemo Therapy

Chemo therapy is considered a "systemic" form of breast cancer treatment. Chemotherapy usually includes a combination of drugs, there are many drug combinations used to treat breast cancer. This will improve the chance of killing the different kinds of breast cancer cells that come from the same cancer.

6. Adjuvant Therapy

Adjuvant therapy should be considered in male patients with primary breast cancer. Adjuvant therapy refers to the administration of systemic antitumor therapy following primary surgery for early stage invasive breast cancer. This is an additional cancer treatment given after the primary treatment to lower the risk that the cancer will come back.

The breast tissue in men is smaller. Therefore, the cancerous cells affect the chest wall, and can spread to other organs easily. There is an urgent need to make men aware that breast cancer is not limited to women. Knowing the symptoms may help save one's life.