While we tend to think of breast cancer as a women’s disease, men can develop breast cancer, too. The group is small—fewer than 1% of all breast cancer cases—and it is most often found in men between the ages of 60 and 70.
Today, survival is similar for both men and women when their stage at diagnosis is the same. But men are less likely than women to notice changes in their breasts or chest, or to mention these changes to their doctors. As a result, men’s breast cancer is more often diagnosed at a later stage, when a cure is less likely.
Know your risk factors, and talk to your doctor right away if you find any lumps or changes in your chest area, such as skin puckering or nipple changes. That is key to early detection and successful treatment. Common risk factors for men include:
- Family history
- Inherited gene mutations
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Radiation exposure
- Liver disease
If there is a chance you have breast cancer and you have testing that is positive for breast cancer, additional diagnostics and staging will be the same as for women, because the types of breast cancer in both sexes are the same. Treatments for men and women are the same, too, most often a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy.
Steps that any man can take who is concerned about a risk for breast cancer include drinking alcohol in moderation, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. The best strategy to prevent breast cancer is early detection and prompt treatment.
For more information:
American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer in Men
National Cancer Institute, General information about male breast cancer
National Cancer Institute, Incidence and mortality
MedlinePlus, Male Breast Cancer
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Do men get breast cancer?
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, Breast Cancer/Special Populations/Men