Not only women struggle with breast cancer. Although breast cancer in men is 100 times less common than in women, a lack of information about it can trigger late diagnosis. This complication can affect men’s survival chances.
If a man gets it, he is very quiet about it because he feels embarrassed. This happens because breast cancer has been considered a women’s disease.
According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of getting a male breast cancer is about 1 in 1000, but symptoms and risk factors are similar in both sexes.
The following factors raise the risk of male breast cancer: age, family history of breast cancer, Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, a mutation in the BRCA gene and lifestyle factors including heavy drinking. Treatments with chemotherapy and mastectomies are also alike for men and women.
However, the difference is in diagnosis and screening. Men do not experience routine breast cancer screenings. Men only seek medical attention when they notice a lump, while women have routine screenings and get it diagnosed earlier. When men seek help, the tumor is usually at least 1 cm in size, and it has often spread.
Men with family history of breast cancer or having the BRCA mutation need to speak to their doctors about managing their breast cancer risk.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men
They can feel a lump or swelling, which is usually painless
Dimpling or wrinkling of the skin
Retraction of the nipple
Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
Discharge from the nipple
A breast cancer can extend to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone, causing a lump or swelling there. This can happen even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is big enough to be noticed.
These changes do not have to mean it is cancer. For instance, most breast lumps in men are triggered by gynecomastia, which is a harmless swelling of breast tissue. However, if you notice any breast changes, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
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