Men & Breast Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), men too are affected by breast cancer. In men, the number of cases of breast cancer is much lower than in women but nonetheless it is still a killer of men and women alike. The American Cancer Society states that about 410 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. The life time risk is 1 in 1,000 or a 1% chance as opposed to women’s life time risk which is about 1 in 8. Male breast cancer is found more commonly in men over 60 but younger men are still considered at risk for the disease.

Men have a small of amount of breast tissue located on the chest wall right behind the nipple. This is where doctors may find abnormal cell growth commonly found in breast cancer. During puberty, the male hormone, testosterone, suppresses the growth of the breast tissue, making breast cancer in men much less common than in women.

The cause of male breast cancer is still undetermined fully but many factors such as genetics and environmental influences do play a role in the disease. Some of the most common factors are: radiation exposure, high levels of estrogen (Hyperestrogenism), alcohol abuse (cirrhosis of the liver), genetics and also Klinefelter’s Syndrome. Klinefelter’s syndrome is a disease that affects about 1 in 1,000 men in which the male receives an extra “X” chromosome during birth from their mother which leads to an increase in estrogen production in the body. Also, men that take propecia, a drug that helps treat prostate cancer, may be at an added risk for male breast cancer.

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As in women, there are many forms of male breast cancer that range from non-invasive to aggressive (stage 0 to stage IV). In most cases, men are treated with surgery to remove the cancerous tissue over the chest muscle. After that, many men will also have some sort of adjunct therapy to make sure the cancer doesn’t spread. More aggressive cancers will usually mean that the male will need to undergo chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or hormonal therapy.

The survival rate of male breast cancer is highly influenced by what stage the cancer is caught at. Research done by the National Cancer Institute (http://www.seer.cancer.gov) shows that men who catch the disease early-on (stage 0), have about a 100% survival guide. That number lowers with more aggressive cancers. Men who have stage IV cancer only a 23% chance of survival. This means that men should also be doing self-examinations at home feeling for any abnormalities or lumps on their pectoral muscles. If was found, they should consult with their doctor immediately.

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