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Male Breast Cancer What You Need To Know

Updated on December 10, 2012


Male breast cancer has recently come to attention both in the medical and social world. For a long time the focus has been on the breast cancer as it affects women. The disease has been made for a specific gender. But in the recent past an increasing number of men have been diagnosed with the disease. Previous male patients have been ashamed and afraid of stigmatization, and have therefore not spoken about the disease and their experiences. However, more and more survivors of male breast cancer are speaking up to bring awareness to the disease and a part of the male anatomy which most men ignore. Whereas other forms of cancers affecting the male gender have been widely spoken of such as prostate cancer, male breast cancer has received a much lower audience. For this reason, an entire population of men is unaware of the risk they face with regard to breast cancer; therefore they are not on the lookout for symptoms and are often diagnosed when the cancer is in its late stages. A high percentage of men diagnosed with male breast cancer die before treatment becomes effective because of the lateness in diagnosis. Self examination and visits to doctors, awareness of risk with regard to contracting cancer are all much lower in men thereby giving the disease a chance to develop and progress before it is caught and treated. Most of the male breast cancer patients could be cured easily is the cancer is caught in its early stages.

The most common type of male breast cancer is the ductile lymphoma which generally begins and grows ate the tubal structures of the breasts. The main symptom of this form of cancer is a discharge from the nipple of the breast and an increase in size of the breast. Whereas with weight gain one is expected to gain some weight in the breast and hence cause the organs to increase in size, with this type of cancer it is often the case that one breast becomes significantly larger than the other. The nipple may also being to have some discomfort. If either of this symptoms are realized the patient is advised to see a cancer specialists immediately for early diagnosis. Another form of cancer common in men is that which affects the skin covering the nipple. This form of male breast cancer is easy to diagnose and indeed treat since the patient experiences immediate discomfort as the cancer develops making it easy to catch early. On the other hand some men experience a change in nipple coloration and again a discharge of fluids from the nipple indicating a change in the structure of the nipple and need to see a doctor immediately. Each of these forms of cancer depends on estrogen for growth and reproduction. Because of the low estrogen levels in men, the cancers are easily treated and in a much shorter time than in women if diagnosed early. Men should be aware of the forms and symptoms of cancer to look out for.


One of the most common symptoms of male breast cancer is a swelling in the breast or right below the armpit. During breast cancer awareness programs, this is the first symptom individuals are taught to look out for. Although not all lumps in the breast are an indication of cancer, any type of swelling should be a matter of concern. Lumps may indicate a difference in the normal hormonal levels, or the presence of cyst. To ensure that the lump you have felt however small is not cancerous, it is important to visit your local doctor to have a complete breast check up. One can check for the lumps when taking a shower or when dressing. By raising your arm above your head, you are able to feel around and within the breast on each side. If you come across any type of hardening, especially a small lump that moves around when touched, immediately visit your doctor. In addition, any discharge from the breast that contains some form of mucus or is bloody, there is need to visit a hospital and have some tests taken to ensure that you are aware of what is causing such a discharge and that the same is treated. For males no form of discharge should ever be experienced from the breasts as male bodies and hormones are not structured to give discharge at any time. In addition males do not suffer much hormonal imbalance therefore any discharge should be taken seriously.

There are different forms of treatment for male breast cancer including surgery that is the mastectomy, lumpectomy, lymph node removal, prophylactic mastectomy and ovary removal. Of this, entire mastectomy (the total removal of the breast) is the most aggressive and often has the most positive results. Many of the male patients opt for mastectomies as they rarely change the appearance of the patients and have lower recurrence levels. On the other hand, doctors often combine surgery with chemotherapy for much more effective treatment. Chemotherapy is the transportation and treatment of cancer cells by attacking the same with effective medicines transported in the blood stream. The main advantage of chemotherapy is that any random cancer cells are dealt with reducing the chances of the patient developing another tumor. Male breast cancer is treated much in the same way as the breast cancer in women, and side effects of the treatments are not gender specific.


Although very few men are diagnosed with male breast cancer (accounting for only 1% of the cancer population), the increase in the number of male breast cancer survivors has made the disease “come out of the closet” and into the light. More and more men are becoming aware of the risk and prognosis of the disease. In addition an increasing number of the population is undergoing self examination for breast cancer. However, the stigma surrounding the disease is yet to decrease, and often patients are embarrassed to speak out and educate others on what is commonly known as a “female disease”.


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  • Millionaire Tips profile image

    Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

    It hadn't occurred to me that men could even get breast cancer until I had a friend who got it. He was very open about it. You've brought up an important topic, one that really doesn't get the attention it deserves, in this well researched and written article. Voted up.