Also known as: Infiltrating ductal carcinoma-male, Ductal carcinoma in situ-male, Intraductal carcinoma-male, Inflammatory breast cancer-male, Paget disease of the nipple-male or Breast cancer-male
- Exposure to radiation
- Higher estrogen levels due to factors such as heavy drinking, cirrhosis, obesity, and some medicines to treat prostate cancer
- Heredity, such as a family history of breast cancer, mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, and certain genetic disorders, such as Klinefelter syndrome
- Excess breast tissue (gynecomastia)
- Age. Most men are diagnosed with breast cancer between ages 60 to 70.
- Lump or swelling in the breast tissue. One breast may be larger than the other.
- A small lump beneath the nipple.
- Unusual changes in the nipple or skin around the nipple such as redness, scaling, or puckering.
- Nipple discharge.
- A mammogram
- Breast ultrasound
- An MRI of the breast
- An exam of any nipple discharge
- A blood test to check for signs of cancer
- If any of the tests suggest cancer, your provider will do a biopsy to check for cancer.
- How quickly the cancer might grow
- How likely it is to spread
- What treatments might be best
- What are the chances that the cancer might come back
- Chest X-ray, specifically to see if it has spread to the lungs
- Bone scan
- CT scan
- PET scan
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy to check if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
- Surgery to remove the breast, lymph nodes under the arm, the lining over chest muscles, and chest muscles, if needed
- Radiation therapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells and to target specific tumors
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body
- Hormone therapy to block hormones that may help certain types of breast cancer grow
- About 91% of men treated before cancer has spread to other areas of the body are cancer-free after 5 years.
- Almost 3 out of 4 men treated for cancer that has spread to lymph nodes but not to other areas of the body are cancer-free at 5 years.
- Men who have cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body have a smaller chance of long-term survival.
- Know that men can develop breast cancer
- Know your risk factors and talk with your provider about screening and early detection with tests if needed
- Know the possible signs of breast cancer
- Tell your provider if you notice any changes in your breast
Breast cancer is cancer that starts in breast tissue. Both males and females have breast tissue. This means that anyone, including men and boys, can develop breast cancer.
Breast cancer in men is rare. Male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancers.
The cause of breast cancer is not clear. But there are risk factors that make breast cancer more likely in men:
Symptoms of breast cancer in men include:
Exams and Tests
You health care provider will take your medical history and family medical history. You will have a physical exam and a breast exam.
Your provider may order other tests, including:
If cancer is found, your provider will order other tests to find out:
The tests may include:
The biopsy and other tests will be used to grade and stage the tumor. The results of those tests will help determine your treatment.
Treatment options for breast cancer in men include:
During and after treatment, your provider may ask you to have more tests. This may include tests you had during diagnosis. The follow-up tests will show how the treatment is working. They will also show if the cancer comes back.
Cancer affects how you feel about yourself and your life. You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have had the same experiences and problems can help you feel less alone. The group can also point you to helpful resources for managing your condition.
Ask your provider to help you find a support group of men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The long-term outlook for men with breast cancer is excellent when the cancer is found and treated early.
Complications include side effects from surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your health care provider right away if you notice something unusual about your breast, including any lumps, skin changes, or discharge.
There is no clear way to prevent breast cancer in men. The best way to protect yourself is to:
Brinton LA, Cook MB, McCormack V, Johnson KC, Olsson H, Casagrande JT, et al.
Anthropometric and hormonal risk factors for male breast cancer: Male Breast Cancer Pooling Project Results. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014 Mar;106(3). PMID: 24552677 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24552677.
Hunt KK, Green MG, Buchholz TA. Diseases of the breast. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 36.
Kipling M, Ralph JE, Callanan K. Psychological impact of male breast disorders: literature review and survey results. Breast Care (Basel). 2014 Feb;9(1):29-33. PMID: 24803884 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24803884.
Ly D, Forman D, Ferlay J, Brinton LA, Cook MB. An international comparison of male and female breast cancer incidence rates. Int J Cancer. 2013 Apr 15;132(8):1918-26. PMID: 22987302 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22987302.
Nahleh ZA, Srikantiah R, Safa M, Jazieh AR, Muhleman A, Komrokji R. Male breast cancer in the veterans affairs population: a comparative analysis. Cancer. 2007 Apr 15;109(8):1471-7. PMID: 17342768 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17342768.
National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Male Breast Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified 11/25/2014. Available at: cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/malebreast/Patient. Accessed: 7/7/2015.
- Review date:
- July 10, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Christine Zhang, MD, Medical Oncologist, Fresno, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2008 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.