Breast Cancer

Male Breast Cancer

Breast cancer in men is not common, but it does occur. The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer for a man is 1 in 1,000. Many men are not aware they can have breast cancer, and this lack of awareness may contribute to the late-stage diagnoses often made in men. Even though men have less breast tissue than women, making a lump easier to feel, they may ignore breast changes or not report them to the doctor because they don’t realize they are at risk. By the time the breast cancer is diagnosed, it may have spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone.

Most breast cancers in men are hormone receptor-positive, meaning that the growth of cancer cells is stimulated by estrogen and/or progesterone. Typical treatments for hormone receptor-positive cancers include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone treatment and radiation therapy. Most treatments are modeled on treatments for women because the disease tends to respond similarly in both sexes, but researchers are investigating other treatments for men through clinical trials.

When a man hears his diagnosis, his shock at learning he has cancer is often compounded by embarrassment at having what is traditionally known as a “woman’s disease.” No man should ever be embarrassed. Discussing feelings and comparing notes with other men going through similar experiences can be immensely helpful. See Support Resources, and talk with your treatment team about support groups and other resources.


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