What is Male Breast Cancer?

Updated at: Jan 17, 2013
What is Male Breast Cancer?

Breast tissue is present in men though it is small in amount and does not function the way it does in women. Men can suffer from breast cancer too but it is quite rare and uncommon when compared to cases in women.

Editorial Team
Men's HealthWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Feb 15, 2012

Breast cancer is wrongly perceived as a woman’s disease.


Men can suffer from breast cancer too but it is quite rare and uncommon when compared to cases in women. Breast tissue is present in men though it is small in amount and does not function the way it does in women (does not produce milk). Men of any age can suffer from breast cancer but the risk increases later in life, around the age of sixty and seventy. The diagnosis of breast cancer in men is same as in women. Due to low awareness level of this condition men tend to be clueless about any body changes and are embarrassed to discuss any changes in breast appearance which affects timely treatment.



Due to low awareness of male breast cancer, men tend to ignore any symptoms and report only when the condition is in an advanced stage. If the symptoms are looked into at the right time it opens a lot many options of treatment and survival. The signs are:

  • Lumps in the breast which may be painful or painless in nature.
  • Nipple discharge which can be bloody or other secretions
  • Puckering and dimpling of the breast’s skin
  • Nipple retraction which means the nipple is drawn in or turns inward. Any other changes in the appearance of the nipple.
  • Any kind of changes in the skin on the nipple or breast. Generally redness and scaling is seen.
  • Swelled breasts or swollen lymph nodes under the arm.



Causes and Risk factors

Just like in the case of breast cancer in women, the causes behind the occurrence of this condition in men are not known why to happen. Both environmental factors and genetic factors play a role. The following factors play different roles in the occurrence of this disease.


-Age factor: The occurrence of breast cancer in men is mostly seen with increase in age though younger men are at risk too.

-Genetics: A familial predisposition towards breast cancer can put men at risk. Inheriting mutated genes of this condition from any of the parents is a risk.

-Radiation exposure: Men who have undergone any prior radiation therapy to treat any malignant tumor in the chest area such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma put themselves at risk too. Prolonged exposure to such radiation at a young age may put you at risk of breast cancer at a later stage.

-High estrogen levels: Estrogen which is a female hormone is produced in a man’s body in small amounts but can increase due to many reasons. High levels of estrogen due to liver damage, obesity and other genetic factors can cause male breast cancer.

-Klinefelter’s syndrome: It is an extremely rare genetic condition where a man is born with an extra female chromosome. Men are born with an X and Y chromosome but in this condition there is more than one female chromosome. This condition can also increase a man’s risk of breast cancer.

Intake of excess alcohol can put you at risk of male breast cancer.


Tests and Treatment

The following tests are carried out apart from a physical examination by the doctor for correct diagnosis of breast cancer:


-Breast ultrasound: Abnormality is detected by taking images of the breasts by using sound waves.

-Fine needle aspiration: Cells are taken for testing from the breast lumps to detect any abnormal growth.

-Core biopsy: Tissue samples are taken from the breast lumps for testing any malignant growth. It is done under local anesthesia.

-Mammogram: X-rays are taken of the breast to detect any abnormal growths in the breast tissue.

Upon detection ...


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