Men have underdeveloped breast tissues which puts them at a risk of developing breast cancer. Even though male breast cancer is not very common, and females are hundred times more vulnerable to breast cancer, one in hundred breast cancer cases occur in men.
Male breast cancer, like any other cancer, occurs when there is a growth of malignant cells in the breast. The vulnerability for developing breast cancer in males becomes greater with age, and most male breast cancer cases occur in men between 60 years to 70 years of age. Risk factors include high levels of estrogen, which come with Klinefelter’s disease (an abnormality when a man has two X chromosomes with one Y chromosome, compared to the usual one X and one Y chromosome) and cirrhosis (a liver disease), radiation exposure, heredity, obesity and high alcohol intake.
About 30% cases of male breast cancer are due to heredity, compared to just 5% to 10% in females. Breast cancer genes – BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase the risk of men developing breast cancer, if the genes show defects or mutation. Genetic mutation is usually not inherited, and is acquired during the course of your life. Radiation therapies or operations may be one cause for these mutations.
A prominent symptom is lump formation, similar to that in females, breast cancer in men. The lump can come with thickness of the breasts and usually without any pains. Men with breast cancer also show the peau d’orange syndrome, a condition in which breasts develop pits or bumps. Other symptoms are fluid discharge from the nipples, redness, and changes in the nipples or skin around the nipples, much like in females.
If you think you have a chance of developing breast cancer, get your breast clinically examined regularly. The best method for diagnosis is always a biopsy. Mammograms, ultrasounds, and examination of your nipple discharge can also be done, to detect lumps and cancer cell presence. If you are diagnosed with the cancer, do get your tissue tested for the presence of female hormones like estrogen and progesterone, since these hormones increase cancer activity, and can be removed by treatments.
Men can have non-invasive or in situ cancers, which have not spread outside the breast area, or invasive tumors that can spread out. Removal of lump in non invasive cancers – which is usually the first stage of cancer – is recommended. Invasive cancers vary from Stage I to Stage IV, depending upon how advanced the cancer is. Stage I cancers almost always get treated. Mortality rate keeps going higher, depending upon the stage. By Stage IV, the cancer becomes metastatic and spreads to body organs.
Treatment for men with breast cancer is very similar to treatment females undergo. The regular therapies are adopted. For very advanced male breast cancer, as is the case with Stage IV invasive cancer, a combination of Systemic therapies like chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy is used.
A healthy lifestyle throughout your life, with minimal alcohol intake increases your chances of survival ten folds. Early detection is also pivotal to high survival rates. Telling your closest friends and family members is necessary. If you try to hide your disease, even from your children, you will take undue stress up on yourself. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle with adequate rest during your treatment, and it is never a shame to ask friends or family for any sort of help or support that you might need. Your cancer is curable.