Breast Cancer in Men is Rare, But Still An Issue

Women are familiar with the dangers of breast cancer. One out of every eight women will develop breast cancer, and more than 99% of all cases of breast cancer occur in women. Men can develop breast cancer too, though. Breast cancer in men is rare, but it’s still something to be aware of. Despite the fact that male breast cancer accounts for fewer than 1% of all cases, men should take notice and recognize the symptoms of breast cancer.

The risk for male breast cancer is low, but there is still a risk.

Boys and girls have similar breast tissue. As women age and their breast tissues change and develop, their risk of breast problems, such as cancer, increases. But men are not immune to breast cancer. The lifetime risk for male breast cancer is just over 1 in 1,000.

While men are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer, the survival rates are similar between men and women for the same stage and time of diagnosis. However, since men are less likely to have breast cancer, diagnosis is often delayed.

Breast cancer prevalence among women is high, which means that women are often more diligent in screening for cancer, and more familiar with the symptoms to look for, than men. Women should have annual screening mammograms starting at age 40. 

Male breast cancer is also an indicator that a cancer-causing gene may exist in the family.  Men with breast cancer or women with a male breast cancer in the family history should discuss genetic testing with their physician.

Symptoms of breast cancer in men.

Male breast cancer symptoms are similar to female symptoms.

  • Lumps in the breast or chest
  • Unusual change in size or shape or breast or nipple
  • Thickening of skin on chest or under arms
  • Soreness of breast or chest
  • Scaling, redness, itchiness,  or rash on breast, chest, or nipple
  • Nipple inversion
  • Nipple discharge

These symptoms do not necessarily indicate breast cancer, and could be signs of other breast issues. At the same time, a lack of these symptoms does not mean an absence of breast cancer.

Contact a physician.

Since male breast cancer is rare, men might not be aware of the symptoms, or might disregard the symptoms. Some men might be embarrassed, or might not even know that it’s possible for men to have breast cancer. The Breast Center provides care for women and men who are dealing with breast cancer. If you notice any the symptoms mentioned above, schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible.