Male breast cancer
Male breast cancer
Male breast cancer is cancer that forms in the breast tissue of men. Though breast cancer is most commonly thought of as a woman's disease, male breast cancer does occur.
Male breast cancer is most common in older men, though male breast cancer can occur at any age.
Men diagnosed with male breast cancer at an early stage have a good chance for a cure. Still, many men delay seeing their doctors if they notice unusual signs or symptoms, such as a breast lump. For this reason, many male breast cancers are diagnosed when the disease is more advanced.
Signs and symptoms of male breast cancer can include:
When to see a doctor
It's not clear what causes male breast cancer. Doctors know that male breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin growing abnormally. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells do. The accumulating cells form a tumor that may spread (metastasize) to nearby tissue, to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.
Where breast cancer begins in men
Types of breast cancer diagnosed in men include:
Inherited genes that increase breast cancer risk
Meeting with a genetic counselor and undergoing genetic testing can determine whether you carry gene mutations that increase your risk of breast cancer. Discuss the benefits and risks of genetic testing with your doctor.
Factors that increase the risk of male breast cancer include:
Preparing for your appointment
Start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms that worry you. If your doctor thinks you may have breast cancer, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating cancer (oncologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For male breast cancer, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
Tests and diagnosis
Diagnosing male breast cancer
Determining the extent of the cancer
The stages of male breast cancer are:
Primary breast tumors vary in shape and size. The smallest lesion that can be felt by hand is typically 1.5 to 2.0 centimeters (about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch) in diameter. Sometimes tumors that are 5 ...
Treatments and drugs
To determine your male breast cancer treatment options, your doctor considers your cancer's stage, your overall health and your preferences. Male breast cancer treatment often involves surgery and may also include other treatments.
In male breast cancer, radiation therapy may be used to eliminate any remaining cancer cells in the breast, chest muscles or armpit after surgery.
Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may have spread outside your breast. Chemotherapy may also be an option for men with advanced breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast.
No alternative treatments for male breast cancer are proven to cure the disease. But some alternative treatments are thought to be helpful when coping with the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.
Alternative medicine treatments may help you cope with feelings of anxiety and distress, which many people diagnosed with cancer experience. You may experience anxiety and distress from the shock of your diagnosis and from worrying about your future. If you have anxiety and distress, you may have difficulty concentrating and sleeping.
To help you cope, you might consider alternative medicine treatments, such as:
Coping and support
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is shocking and scary. With time you'll find ways to cope with the stress and challenges of cancer and cancer treatment. Until then, you might find it helpful to:
To reduce your risk of male breast cancer you can:
Last Updated: 2010-01-16
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