As far as the symptoms of male breast cancer are concerned, a specific cause has not been identified yet. Men are susceptible to breast cancer if there is a strong family history or the presence of an abnormal gene inherited from their parents.
What are the symptoms of male breast cancer?
When you find you that you are displaying certain signs and symptoms that show no signs of abating, it is important to consult your doctor.
Symptoms of male breast cancer include:
- The breast tissue has some kind of thickening or the presence of a painless lump.
- The skin that covers your breast shows some changes like redness, wrinkling, scaling or dimpling.
- There are certain changes that take place in your nipple like redness or scaling. There is an inward turning of the nipple.
- The nipples let out some kind of discharge.
Causes of male breast cancer
A specific cause as to the occurrence of breast cancer in men has not been found. According to doctors, breast cancer in men occurs when certain cells in the breast divide faster than healthy cells.
These cells then assemble together and a tumor is formed, which spreads or metastasizes to the nearby tissue and follows the lymph nodes. Then, they spread to the remaining part of the body.
Both men and women have breast tissue in small quantities. The breast tissue has glands or globules which produce milk and ducts which transport the milk to the nipples and fat.
There is more breast tissue development in women than in men at the time of puberty. As the amount of breast tissue in men is little, there is a possibility of developing breast cancer.
Types of male breast cancer
Diagnosis of breast cancer in men falls into the following categories:
- Cancer originating in the milk ducts or ductal carcinoma: The majority of breast cancer in men is ductal carcinoma.
- Cancer that originates in the milk-producing glands or lobular carcinoma: This is a rare occurrence in men as there are a few lobules in the breast tissue.
- Other forms of cancer: There are few rare forms of cancer that are found in men. They include inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease, which occurs in the nipple.
The risk factors of male breast cancer
Sometimes men are at a greater risk for cancer due to the inheritance of some abnormal or mutated genes that they get through their parents. When a gene, especially BRCA2, is mutated, men are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
It is, therefore, important to determine your family’s history of cancer and consult a doctor regarding the same. Never have second thoughts while consulting a medical professional to discuss something you are unsure about.
You might be referred to a genetic counselor who might suggest that you undergo genetic testing to determine whether your genes are involved in causing cancer.
- Older age: The chances of getting breast cancer increases along with age. It is normally detected in men who are in their 60’s.
- Estrogen exposure: Risks of breast cancer in men are greater for those who consume estrogen-related drugs on a regular basis for hormone therapy. They take this medication in case they have prostate cancer. This puts you at a higher risk for breast cancer.
- History of breast cancer in the family: You are likely to have breast cancer if there is a family member or a close relative who has had breast cancer.
- Klinefelter’s syndrome: This is a genetic syndrome which occurs when boys have multiple copies of the X chromosome at birth. The testicles don’t develop in the normal way when boys have this syndrome. There is a lower production of certain male hormones or androgens and a higher level of female hormones or estrogens are produced.
- Liver disease: Cirrhosis of the liver produces a greater amount of female hormones and lowers male hormones thereby increasing the risk of breast cancer.
- Obesity: Estrogen levels in the body go up with obesity putting you at a higher risk of male breast cancer.
- Testicle disease: The risk of male breast cancer goes up when you have inflammation of the testicles or orchitis. It also occurs if you’ve undergone surgical removal of the testicle or orchiectomy.
How is male breast cancer diagnosed?
There are numerous tests and procedures to diagnose male breast cancer.
- Clinical breast cancer: Your breast and the surrounding region is examined by the doctor with the fingertips to detect any lumps or other abnormality.
- Imaging tests: The areas of abnormality are identified by doctors through pictures of your breasts taken through imaging tests.
- Biopsy of breast cells: Core tissue from the breast is extracted from the suspected area with the help of an X-ray and a special needle.
Breast cancer is treated with radiation therapy, hormone therapy or chemotherapy.