Male Breast Cancer: a reality

male breast exam cancer

You may be thinking: Men don’t have breasts, so how can they get breast cancer?

Even though men don’t have breasts like women, they do have a small amount of breast tissue. The “breasts” of an adult man are similar to the breasts of a girl before puberty. In girls, this tissue grows and develops, but in men, it doesn’t. But because it is still breast tissue, men can get breast cancer. Men get the same types of breast cancers that women do, but cancers involving the parts that make and store milk are rare.

Risk factors of male breast cancer include:

  • Breast cancer in a close female relative
  • History of radiation exposure of the chest
  • Enlargement of breasts (called gynecomastia) from drug or hormone treatments, or even some infections and poisons
  • Taking estrogen
  • A rare genetic condition called Klinefelter’s syndrome
  • Severe liver disease (called cirrhosis)
  • Diseases of the testicles such as mumps orchitis, a testicular injury, or an undescended testicle.

The major problem is that breast cancer in men is often diagnosed later than breast cancer in women. This may be because men are less likely to be suspicious of something strange in that area. Also, their small amount of breast tissue is harder to feel, making it harder to catch these cancers early. It also means tumors can spread more quickly to surrounding tissues.

The lymph system is important to understand because it is one of the ways that breast cancers can spread.

male breast cancer structure

But, not all men with cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases to other areas, and some men can have no cancer cells in their lymph nodes and later develop metastases.

Men can also have some benign (not cancerous) breast disorders.

The most important, like for women, is prevention and the auto examination. Know your body and more likely you will figure out what is not normal.

Stay healthy, be happy!

 

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