Breast Cancer in Men

Statistics regarding men and breast cancer:

Breast cancer in men is rare - less than 1 percent of all breast carcinomas occur in men. Consider the latest statistics available from the American Cancer Society:

  • The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008 about 1,990 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men in the US.
  • Breast cancer is about 100 times more common among women.
  • Estimates for 2008 also indicate that there will be more than 40,910 deaths from breast cancer in the US (40,480 women, 450 men).
  • The average age at diagnosis is 67, although men of all ages can be affected with the disease.

What are risk factors for breast cancer in men?

Risk factors may include the following:

  • radiation exposure
  • estrogen administration
  • diseases associated with hyperestrogenism, such as cirrhosis or Klinefelter's syndrome
  • heavy alcohol intake

Also, there are definite familial tendencies for developing breast cancer:

  • An increased incidence is seen in men who have a number of female relatives with breast cancer.
  • An increased risk of male breast cancer has been reported in families in which a BRCA2 mutation has been identified.

What is the most common type of breast cancer in men?

Infiltrating ductal cancer is the most common tumor type, but intraductal cancer, inflammatory carcinoma, and Paget's disease of the nipple have been described as well.

Lobular carcinoma in situ is rare in men.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer in men?

The following are the most common symptoms of breast cancer in men. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • breast lumps
  • nipple inversion
  • nipple discharge (sometimes bloody)
  • a pain or pulling sensation in the breast

The symptoms of breast cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

What are the similarities to breast cancer in women?

Lymph node involvement and the hematogenous pattern of spread are similar to those found in female breast cancer. The staging system for male breast cancer is identical to the staging system for female breast cancer.

Prognostic factors that have been evaluated include the size of lesion and the presence or absence of lymph node involvement, both of which correlate well with prognosis.

Overall survival for men with breast cancer is similar to that of women with breast cancer. The impression that male breast cancer has a worse prognosis may stem from the tendency toward diagnosis at a later stage.

Treatment options for men with breast cancer:

Specific treatment for male breast cancer will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

The primary standard treatment is a modified radical mastectomy, just as it is with female breast cancer. Adjuvant therapy may be considered on the same basis as it is for a woman with breast cancer - since there is no evidence that prognosis is different for men or women.

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