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. Most male breast cancer is 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, male 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.
Take the next step:
- Read about breast cancer in men from the American Cancer Society.
- Review this information from the National Cancer Institute on male breast cancer treatment.
- Check out this fact sheet (PDF) on male breast cancer from Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
- Learn more about genetics counseling at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- Still have questions? Call the nurses at the University of Michigan Cancer AnswerLine™. They can help patients or their loved ones find a clinical trial or provide insights into the newest and latest cancer treatments. Feel free to call at 1-800-865-1125 or send an e-mail.
The Cancer AnswerLine™ nurses are experienced in oncology care, including helping patients and their families who have questions about cancer. These registered oncology nurses are available by calling 800-865-1125 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Your call is always free and confidential.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.