What Is Male Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a predominant phenomenon among women, but can males have breast cancer? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Even though it is a rare circumstance, many male individuals around the world have experienced breast cancer. This condition occurs when the cells around the breast and lymph nodes grow uncontrollably. Ultimately, the growth leads to the formation of lumps around the breast areas, commonly known as breast tumours. These tumours are called malignant when they have the potential to invade neighbouring organs or anywhere in the body. These tumours are frequently confused with cysts in breast, which can be differentiated through a few examinations.
Till the time boys and girls reach puberty, they have almost equal amounts of breast tissues, with some ducts situated under the areola and nipple. While these tissues extensively grow among women, men have similar amounts throughout life. That’s why breast cancer is more frequent among women than men.
Male Breast Cancer Causes
Male breast cancer is a rare condition yet affects a significant number of individuals every year. While the causal reasons are yet to be discovered, several risk factors are found to be associated.
The cells around the breast grow in response to oestrogen, an integral hormone among females. But do males have breast cancer due to a female hormone? Yes, they can suffer from breast cancer due to oestrogen levels. Men having an increased oestrogen level are at a higher risk of developing breast tumours than the rest of the population. It is among the most common male breast cancer causes. When the breast cells start abruptly growing in response to this hormone, male breast cancer occurs.
Many researchers have deduced that changes in certain genes or DNA sequences can change normal cells into cancerous cells. Some genes comprise of instructions to control cell division and growth. On the other hand, some instructions make these genes grow uncontrollably, and these genes are termed oncogenes. The oncogenes are responsible for regulating cancer cell growth.
Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer can be suspected by a wide range of symptoms. Some of the major symptoms are highlighted below.
This is usually felt only on one of the breasts, either around the nipple or under it. These breast tumours are generally painless and hard to touch. It does not have any movement and grows over time. The texture is bumpy and uneven.
In several cases, people find their nipples swollen with fluid discharge occasionally. At times, it is coupled with breast pain.
Body and Bones Aching
With breast pain, many also face bone and body aches. This can be from mild to severe. However, other conditions like weak bones can also cause such pains.
Rashes around Breast Area
Red sashes around the breast or soreness that do not subside with time are seen among men with breast cancer.
This is one of the ultimate symptoms that confirm breast cancer among men and women. Our nipples protrude outside, but in the case of breast cancer, the nipple starts inverting towards the inside subsequently leading to breast pain.
Diagnosis of Male Breast Cancer
Breast cancer specialists diagnose male breast cancer by prescribing a few tests. Below are the sequential steps to follow and confirm the condition.
Initial Clinical Breast Check
This is the first step in diagnosing breast tumours. The doctor checks for any lumps around your breast and nipple area. If the doctor finds any irregularity, further tests are recommended.
Going through Ultrasound
Ultrasound is the next step to check for breast tissue images under high-frequency sound waves. It can differentiate between cysts in breast and tumours but cannot confirm malignancy.
This examination facilitates an x-ray picture of both breasts. This test deduces if there is something to worry about. Then, the oncologist prescribes the final confirmatory test, a biopsy.
Nipple Discharge Examination (If any)
The fluid coming out of the nipple is examined under a microscope to deduce its nature. Cysts in the breast can also cause fluid discharge; the nature of both varies.
You can get this test done at a breast cancer hospital. This is nothing but a lump tissue examination under a microscope. Breast cancer specialists analyse the tissues extracted from the lump and confirm if the lump is formed by cancerous cells. Various biopsy methods like fine needle aspiration biopsy, core needle biopsy, breast cancer surgery biopsy, and image-guided biopsy are used as needed.
Treatment for Male Breast Cancer
The treatment of male breast cancer is similar to that for females. To live a cancer-free life, you have to go through the following treatment procedures.
Breast Cancer Surgery
According to the stage and other criteria, breast cancer surgery is planned. Primarily, there are two procedures performed; one is a lumpectomy, and the other one is a mastectomy. Lumpectomy, also known as breast conserving surgery (BCS), is a breast cancer surgery where only the affected area is removed by surgical intervention. On the other hand, mastectomy is a breast cancer surgery that involves amputation of the complete breast. In the early stages, lumpectomy is preferred, and in the latter stages, mastectomy is performed.
After breast cancer surgery, the next step is chemotherapy. In this therapy, cancer-killing drugs are administered to the patient either orally or intravenously. The amount and cycle are designed according to the severity.
In this therapy, the patient is treated with high-energy x-rays or other rays to destroy the cancerous cells. In the case of male breast cancer, external beam radiation is the most preferred option.
This therapy involves the use of drugs or hormones to control the effects of various hormones that can promote cancer cell growth. This can be used either before surgery (neoadjuvant treatment) or after (adjuvant treatment).
Targeted Drug Therapy
This therapy can catalyse the effects of chemotherapy. In many cases, targeted therapy works when chemotherapy doesn’t. This treatment is designed according to the nature of cancer cells. Some of the targeted drug therapy for male breast cancer is HER2-positive targeted drug therapy, hormone receptor-positive targeted therapy, and targeted therapy for BRCA mutations.
This therapy helps stimulate patient’s immune system to identify cancer cells and destroy them efficiently. This therapy is not recommended for all male breast cancer patients.
Preventive Measures From Breast Cancer for Male
Ways to Prevent male breast cancer are not deduced as the cause remains a mystery. However, a few breast care measures can lower the risk of male breast cancer. Some of them are avoiding alcohol and smoking. Go through annual body check-ups to diagnose such conditions early. Keeping your BMI under check by staying active.
Yes, male breast cancer is a fast-growing phenomenon. Depending on the location, male breast cancer is either called ductal carcinoma or lobular carcinoma. Yes, 1 out of 100 cases of breast cancer in the USA is found to be among male patients. 5 years is the relative survival rate of men diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast Cancer in Men FAQS
Is male breast cancer fast-growing?
What is male breast cancer called?
Is breast cancer possible in men?
How long do men live with breast cancer?
Yes, male breast cancer is a fast-growing phenomenon.
Depending on the location, male breast cancer is either called ductal carcinoma or lobular carcinoma.
Yes, 1 out of 100 cases of breast cancer in the USA is found to be among male patients.
5 years is the relative survival rate of men diagnosed with breast cancer.