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Men Get Breast Cancer Too

Updated on April 5, 2013

Are you Serious? Men Get Breast Cancer? You Bet They Do!

Chances are you will never get breast cancer if you are a man, yet every year some men do get this rare form of cancer. Like me, if you have men in your family, this information is also important to you.

It's doubly important to me, since I lived through breast cancer, and I want to alert others to risks they may currently ignore.

I was pleased to locate some male breast cancer survivors who've compiled information for other men, and for the women who love them. If you are in New York you can check out the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance in Ithaca, as the male Associate Director is now in remission from the disease.

For those in the rest of the country, or if you choose not to travel to Ithaca, I present signs and symptoms, videos specific to male breast cancer, and resources.

Men often find it difficult to admit to what many consider a woman's disease, but more and more men get the same diagnosis, Cancer of the Breast - we all come from the same seed into the same beginning stage. Fortunately, now, men can find many resources geared specially towards Male Breast Cancer.

Photo above of my dad and my son copyrighted by artist Leslie Sinclair, with no use permitted.

A Man's Hearty Battle with Breast Cancer - compelling delivery of breast cancer changes in the patient's life

Perhaps it is the frequency with which women are diagnosed with breast cancer, that softens the general consciousness of the impact of these toxic treatments on so many women.

But, when it happened to Jack Wills (this diagnosis), he was so shocked with each segment of his own treatment. But the commonality of the disease had nothing to do with the severity of the impairments unleashed by radiation, chemotherapy, and "after-treatment" drugs.

Saving Jack: A Man’s Struggle with Breast Cancer
Saving Jack: A Man’s Struggle with Breast Cancer

Jack was one of the 2,000 or so men who get Breast Cancer each year. He liberates the male reader from the pact of silence that locks many of these men into the isolation of a solitary treatment regimen.

Jack Willis used his former journalistic training and his expert delivery, from his years as a college professor, to present an incisive and compelling story of his journey into the affiliation of Breast Cancer Men.

Without hesitation Willis knew that mastectomy was the way to go. That decision was simple - as simple as it could have been, for that serious a diagnosis.

What he couldn't have comprehended was just how trying the ensuing years, even after the treatment, could be for this perceptive man.

 

What Men Need to Notice on Their Chest

Really Take a Look at Your Nipple Area - Signs of Possible Significance

1. lump - any sort of mass, a bump, a thickening,

2. a pinching look to some area of skin

3. red tinged nipple, or reddish skin

4. skin that looks scaly, even on nipple

5. fluid coming out of the nipple

These are all possible indicators of breast cancer. They all need to be evaluated by your doctor. Don't hesitate to tell the physician so you can get a professional opinion.

If you have a solid fear that one or more signs is likely BC, ask for further evaluation.

Mammogram is the most likely test, but it may not be the test for your signs.

Some BC is pretty obvious to the trained eye and you may be sent for a biopsy.

A mammogram that detects a suspicious area is often followed by an ultrasound that can confirm or rule out malignancy, but often a patient is sent for a CT scan or even an MRI.

Don't hesitate. If one of these diagnostic tests is advised, then the only means of finding out if you are cancer free is to have further testing.

The scans can pinpoint a problem, and chances of recovery from an actual BC are heightened by prompt action.

Men, Even Male Doctors Get Breast Cancer - breast cancer men

The Lump: A Gynecologist's Journey with Male Breast Cancer
The Lump: A Gynecologist's Journey with Male Breast Cancer

I find it meaningful and encouraging that a doctor who had breast cancer, and went through the whole regimen of treatment tells his story.

Not every man is willing to disclose the fact that he had a mastectomy, but the author uses his story to alert other men.

 

Male Breast Cancer is a Reality

Breast Cancer Men CDs for Patients & Doctors

21st Century Ultimate Medical Guide to Male Breast Cancer - Authoritative, Practical Clinical Information for Physicians and Patients, Treatment Options (Two CD-ROM Set)
21st Century Ultimate Medical Guide to Male Breast Cancer - Authoritative, Practical Clinical Information for Physicians and Patients, Treatment Options (Two CD-ROM Set)

Get an encyclopedia of resources for every man who's at risk of breast cancer --- and that means every man in our lives.

 

Three Types of Breast Cells Diagrammed

I really like this explanation, and especially the simple diagrams. Although men don't produce milk with their breasts, the structure of men's and women's breast tissue is the same.

Cancer.org is part of the American Cancer Society, with the full depth of resources of a dependable, well supported knowledge base. www.cancer.org/ You Can Help Here! Fill out the Knots of Love Donation Form and set another hat on another child's head!

This type of cancer is truly rare in men. WebMD says that, out of one million men, only ten will get breast cancer. Why, we wonder.

The fact is that both male and female breasts are composed of the same cell structures, but the male breast resembles that of a prepubescent girl, and they don't mature because they don't receive a heavy dose of female hormones - the types of hormones that feed breast cancer in females.

Susan G. Komen makes the facts about men and Breast Cancer easy with their straightforward information about signs and risks. Do you notice any changes in the chest around your nipple? Do you drink often? Are you obese? Does a female family member have the breast cancer that has a BRCA2 mutation?

Click on the link and check out your risk, and then see your doctor if you have any suspicions. Neither this page nor these websites have all the information you need, but my goal is that you will take this condition seriously enough to investigate further. Believe me, I know about denial.

I knew I was at a high risk for this cancer - for a decade or a couple decades - and then I got caught. It didn't matter that I was healthy, active, thin, really exercised a lot, so if you even think your aunt had an inherited form of BC or grandma's BC was hush-hush, then ask some questions.

There's no shame to having this type of cancer. It can mean your life.www.s.komen.org

Mayo Clinic Male Breast Cancer Resources

Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Tests & Diagnosis, followed by Treatments and more. Subscribe to Mayo Clinic cancer newsletters to receive updates. Men simply must see a doctor at the first sign of a lump or unusual symptoms, such as discharge from a nipple, or changes in breast skin appearance. Do a good thing. See a Doc.

www.mayoclinic.com

Symptoms in Breast Cancer Men

I drew this soon after becoming a radiation and chemo patient. The plant-type images are the early versions of what I call the Pickflowers. I come from a mining heritage, (individual, not corporate) and loved my father's small pick with its laminated leather covered handle.

Photo above copyrighted by artist Leslie Sinclair, with no use permitted.

I envisioned the pickflowers being the cancer fighting chemicals that were shooting through my veins. Those hanging balls are "my balloons," not popped, but suspended, drained of color.

I could imagine them as nanomachines, chipping away at the cancer cells' membrances, breaking them up and sending them to be excreted by my body.

As is the case with women, there are many signs of possible breast cancer in men:

A nipple that becomes retracted, sort of sinking into the chest wall

Redness and/or puffiness of the breast area

Discharge coming from the nipple, either clear or bloody looking

Ulceration or other types of rawness in the skin

Mass or lumpy area in and near the armpit

Charity Hats & Caps!

Male Survivor's Breast Cancer Story

Bob Riter, a Face of the Breast Cancer Men

his lump began bleeding 2 weeks after discovery

This is an image I drew in my Chemo Journal Drawings, after I attended a Support Group meeting. A 70ish woman opened her blouse, and gently separated her prosthesis from her chest wall.

Photo above copyrighted by artist Leslie Sinclair, with no use permitted.

Then she held it out to the woman sitting next to her and it was passed around the large gathering.

When it got to me I swallowed my squeamish feelings and felt the woman's warmth remaining in the prosthesis. It was incredibly touching for the lady to be so at ease, to want to share her brand new prosthesis with the whole group.

Bob Riter knows first-hand that breast cancer strikes men as well as women, because he had the disease in 1996. He works as Associate Director of the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance, and loses no chance to warn other men about the disease

Those men who fall within one of these categories are more likely than others to get Male Breast Cancer:

Men with High Estrogen Levels

Those with Klinefelter Syndrome - having an extra X- chromosome

Men with a history of radiation exposure

Get more information

Reading for the Male Breast Cancer Patient

Breast Disease in Women and Men
Breast Disease in Women and Men

Read what your doctor reads regarding men's Breast Cancer. Education is part of the course of conquering cancer.

 

Information for Men Facing Breast Cancer

The male body also has some amount of breast tissue in the form of ducts, with only a few - if any - lobules (milk-producing glands). This makes men susceptible to breast cancer. Thankfully, the numbers are small, but large enough for men to take heed. Take advantage of these resources to inform yourself.

Real Men Wear Pink Tee Shirt

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon REAL MEN WEAR PINK Adult T-Shirt - Charcoal, XL
Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon REAL MEN WEAR PINK Adult T-Shirt - Charcoal, XL

T-Shirt brings up the topic for you, and then it's up to you whether or not to share your own story. Breast Cancer Awareness Adult T-shirt Ribbon Real Men Wear Pink Tee Shirt. An awesome t-shirt for anyone that supports Breast Cancer Awareness.

 

2,000+ US & 300 UK Breast Cancers in Men This Year

This drawing reflects the sorry state of my bald scalp post another chemotherapy session. Due to my inability to work I had no job, hence moved to a smaller home. Friends and family did the whole task.

Artwork above copyrighted by artist Leslie Sinclair, with no use permitted.

Although I didn't know it at the time, a massive ocular migraine had disrupted every part of my life and I watched them work.

One friend came over to help purge my filing cabinets. Chemo made me dizzy when I lifted a document from a file folder, and either put it in the "shred" pile or placed it back into the folder.

I had been hospitalized and when the time came to sign the lease, the new manager brought it to my hospital bed.

On my new street I could walk far enough to the west to a point from which I could see Puget Sound, and I made a point to walk to that spot at least six days per week. This drawing reminds me of how grateful I was for having my cancer diagnosed when it was very small, Stage 1.

Differences from female breast cancer

Male and female breast cancers have significant differences. Lesions are easier to find in men due to the smaller breast size; however, lack of awareness often postpones medical attention.

The presence of gynecomastia may mask the condition. The diagnosis is made later in men-at age 67 on average-than in women with their average at 63. Lesions are less contained in men as they do not have to travel far to infiltrate skin, nipple, or muscle tissue. Thus, lesions in men tend to be more advanced.

Indeed, almost half of male breast cancer patients are stage III or IV. In familial cases, male BRCA2 carriers are at risk. With the relative infrequency of male breast cancer, randomized studies are stilllacking.

A Sparkly Cufflink Treat for the Special Man

Cuff-Daddy Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Cufflinks with Presentation Box
Cuff-Daddy Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Cufflinks with Presentation Box

Pink ribbons like these remind us all of the need to find a cure for breast cancer. Skillfully adorned with genuine Swarovski crystals, these ribbons are beautiful and a constant reminder of this man's progress.

 

The Comprehensive Patient's Guide - for breast cancer men who want information

The Official Patient's Sourcebook on Male Breast Cancer: A Revised and Updated Directory for the Internet Age
The Official Patient's Sourcebook on Male Breast Cancer: A Revised and Updated Directory for the Internet Age

The patient's "must have" reference book for patients, parents, caregivers, and libraries with medical collections. Covers: techniques to researching male breast cancer (e.g. finding guidelines on diagnosis, treatments, and prognosis), how to get in touch with organizations, associations, or other patient networks dedicated to male breast cancer.

Basic research topics for patients with male breast cancer. we direct you to the latest scientific and applied research on male breast cancer. When possible, contact names, links via the Internet.

Accessing materials via medical libraries may be the only option for some readers, so a guide is provided for finding local medical libraries which are open to the public.

 

Types of Breast Cancer in Men - Breast Cancer Men

Every one of these chemo drawings includes some reference to new growth, in the form of leaves, stems, blossoms, roots and the Pickflowers.

Each connects with the growth of new healthy cells, the more the new ones grow, the less space there is to accommodate the deathly cells.

Water shows up in abundance, in tiny stamps, in drops still attached to the leaves, in ponds and rivers. It's all about nurture.

Artwork above copyrighted by artist Leslie Sinclair, with no use permitted.

Types of Breast Cancer in Men:

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

In DCIS (also known as intraductal carcinoma), cancer cells form in the breast ducts but do not grow through the walls of the ducts into the fatty tissue of the breast or spread outside the breast. DCIS accounts for about 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer in men. It is almost always curable with surgery.

Infiltrating (or invasive) ductal carcinoma (IDC)

This type of breast cancer breaks through the wall of the duct and grows through the fatty tissue of the breast. At this point, it can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. At least 8 out of 10 male breast cancers are IDCs (alone or mixed with other types of invasive or in situ breast cancer).

Because the male breast is much smaller than the female breast, all male breast cancers start relatively close to the nipple, so they are more likely to spread to the nipple. This is different from Paget disease as described below.

Infiltrating (or invasive) lobular carcinoma (ILC)

This type of breast cancer starts in the breast lobules (collections of cells that, in women, produce breast milk) and grows into the fatty tissue of the breast. ILC is very rare in men, accounting for only about 2% of male breast cancers. This is because men do not usually have much lobular tissue.

Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)

In LCIS, abnormal cells form in the lobules, but they do not grow into the fatty tissue of the breast or spread outside the breast. Although LCIS is sometimes classified as a type of non-invasive breast cancer, most breast specialists think it is a risk factor for developing breast cancer rather than a true non-invasive cancer. As with invasive lobular carcinoma, LCIS is very rare in men.

Paget disease of the nipple

This type of breast cancer starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the nipple. It may also spread to the areola (the dark circle around the nipple). The skin of the nipple usually appears crusted, scaly, and red, with areas of itching, oozing, burning, or bleeding. The fingertips can be used to detect a possible lump within the breast.

Paget disease may be associated with DCIS or with infiltrating ductal carcinoma. It accounts for about 1% of female breast cancers and a higher percentage of male breast cancers.

Guide to Male Breast Cancer

Teacher Discusses His Breast Cancer

Surgical Staging for Breast Cancer Men

stages are used to calculate treatment and medications

This is one of the early Chemo Journal Drawings. I had just had the Radiation "Boost," a heftier dose of radiation to the breast.

It knocked the spunk out of me for a while, and killed off most of the skin covering the wound site. That skin had been badly damaged by a huge hematoma, a monstrous blood clot that formed a day or so after surgery.

Artwork above copyrighted by artist Leslie Sinclair, with no use permitted.

I remember feeling a flowing sensation under the tight surgical wrappings that enclosed my whole trunk for the week.

My surgeon was intimidating - telling me "You look terrible!" when he saw me in the hallway, on my way to my exam room, five days post surgery. Now, that didn't make me feel any better. Then he "doubted" there was any problem under the skin, but the Radiation Oncologist worried mightily.

The skin didn't split open then, not until a future surgeon removed the debris from the clot a couple years later. That incision, in the cancer incision spot, failed to heal for six weeks, spouting fluid every day. What I learned from this experience is to trust your instincts.

Surgical Staging is the Same as in Female Breast Cancer:

Stage I - invasive breast cancer with the tumor smaller than 2 cm and NO lymph node involvement.

Stage II - stages IIA and IIB

Stage IIA: One of the following applies:

T0 or T1, N1 (and not N1mi), M0: Tumor measures no more than 2 cm across (or not located) (T1 or T0) and, either:

It has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes (N1a), but not to distant sites (M0), OR Tiny amounts of cancer are found in internal mammary lymph nodes on sentinel lymph node biopsy (N1b), but not in distant sites (M0).

OR. It has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes, and tiny amounts of cancer are found in internal mammary lymph nodes on sentinel lymph node biopsy (N1c), but not to distant sites (M0).

OR T2, N0, M0:

The tumor is larger than 2 cm across and less than 5 cm (T2), but it hasn't spread to the lymph nodes (N0) or to distant sites (M0).

Stage IIB: One of the following applies: T2, N1, M0: The tumor is larger than 2 cm and less than 5 cm across (T2). It has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes and/or tiny amounts of cancer are found in internal mammary lymph nodes on sentinel lymph node biopsy (N1). It has not spread to distant sites (M0).

OR T3, N0, M0: The tumor is larger than 5 cm across but does not grow into the chest wall or skin (T3). It has not spread to lymph nodes (N0) or to distant sites (M0).

Stage III is Divided into Three Subcategories:

In IIIA there is breast cancer with axillary lymph nodes clumped together or attached to other structures.

In IIIB the tumor has spread to the chestwa ll or skin, and may have involved lymph nodes of the axilla and/or breastbone.

In IIIC the tumor has spread to the chest wall or skin and lymph nodes below or above the collar bone are affected.

Stage IV is Applied to Metastatic Breast Cancer

Typically lungs, liver, bone, or brain are involved. In addition to TNM staging surgical staging for breast cancer is used, the same as in female breast cancer and facilitates treatment and analysis.

This Information From Article here

Awareness for Breast Cancer Men

Male Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon Coffee Mug
Male Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon Coffee Mug

I like the idea of giving these male breast cancer mugs to friends and family. A grand idea is to give a set of four or six to the office, for use in the lunchroom or handed out to each male, or to all workers.

 

Informative Articles on Male Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Men are Breast Cancer Warriors

encyclopedic resources, tips and personal story

Family thought I should have withstood the whole cancer experience with more finesse than I did. Other women sailed through their treatments as if their bodies were the same as mine.

This drawing concerns my struggles to regrow my strong inner core, the roots are strongly shown. Cerulean lights cast a healing glow over it all.

I didn't flourish, but wrote and walked and drew and persisted in regaining strength.

Artwork above copyrighted by artist Leslie Sinclair, with no use permitted.

Helpful Information Resource, an article I wrote, with tips, organizations, gifts, books, videos, links.

BreastCancerWarriors

Amazing site for tips on what to do with a head that wants or needs covering: steps in scarf-wearing from an expert; how-to-tie scarves and turbans; where to buy luscious scarves, turbans, hats; where to get free cancer caps, and so much more.

chemowraps

Occasional complication resulting from chemotherapy - Peripheral Neuropathy causes pins-n-needles, sharp pains, burning, numbness in the limbs, especially hands and feet. Peripheral Neuropathy

Natural Medicine Guides to Breast Cancer - and other alternative medicine strategies

Men's Cancer "The List" T-shirt
Men's Cancer "The List" T-shirt

This is a favorite of mine! 10% of the purchase price will be donated to a cancer-related charity. Light navy colored cotton shirt.

 

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    • Useray LM profile image

      Useray LM 4 years ago

      This is really important information. Cancer can be difficult to deal with. I lost my grandparents this way. Thank you for sharing it..

    • deforst profile image

      deforst 4 years ago

      I always thought a diagnosis of breast cancer would be just as devastating for a man as for a woman, but the stigma and delayed diagnosis would certainly make it worse (if that is possible!). I have a mother and a sister who have both had breast cancer, and thankfully come the other side. I just wish that no-one ever had to deal with breast cancer...

    • theallin1writer profile image

      theallin1writer 4 years ago

      This is important info - too few people know about this. *Blessed

    • hysongdesigns profile image

      hysongdesigns 5 years ago

      My step dad and three of his daughters all had breast cancer; all apparently caused by the drift from the nuclear bomb testing. Dad and one of the girls had radical mastectomies and lived many years after.

    • TheBaseballCoach profile image

      TheBaseballCoach 5 years ago

      Interesting and great info