Yes, men do get breast cancer. It's relatively rare, but tends to be much more deadly than female breast cancer. Various studies report that 36 to 75 percent of male breast cancer patients die within five to 10 years of diagnosis. One of the reasons for this is lack of awareness in the general population. The male cases are usually diagnosed late, after the cancer has already progressed to an advanced stage. The other reason is lack of information in the medical literature. Researchers often comment that cancer is not just one disease; different types of cancer have their own characteristics. The optimum treatment depends on matching the therapy to the particular mechanisms of abnormal cell growth.
A recent article reports that male and female breast cancers have significant differences in their cell cycle proteins. The researchers express hope that their results can lead to improved treatment programs.
The average age for men with breast cancer is 60 years, a decade older than the average for women. A typical male patient has a painless, firm mass larger than 2 cm, below the nipple. There may be changes to the skin or nipple, including redness, dimpling, puckering, or scaling. Some patients also have discharge from the nipple. Invasive ductal carcinoma is the diagnosis for 93.7 percent of these men, while lobular carcinoma, Paget's disease, and other subtypes affect the rest.
Risk factors include:
1. Family history
4. Excessive use of alcohol
5. Testicular disease
6. Benign breast conditions
7. Jewish ancestry
8. Liver disease
9. Exposure to electromagnetic field radiation, including radiation therapy for lung cancer
10. Estrogen-related drugs, including some therapies for prostate cancer
11. Klinefelters syndrome. Men with this condition have an extra X chromosome in most of their cells, and are often treated with testosterone replacement therapy.
The Mayo Clinic website offers more details about male breast cancer, and recommends an evaluation by a primary care physician for men with any symptoms. The doctor may refer the patient to an oncologist for treatment.