Known as a rare disease, male breast cancer (MBC) accounts for less than one percent of all breast cancer cases. Males can develop breast cancer since both men and women are born with a small amount of breast tissue. MBC has been associated with late stage diagnoses since individuals and physicians may not consider the possibility of breast cancer in the instance of seeing or feeling something uncommon.
Symptoms of MBC may form a lump or thickening in an area of the breast tissue. Experiencing persistent change to the skin covering the breast or nipple has also been associated with MBC. In the occurrence of MBC, 60-70 years old has been the reported median age of diagnosis.
Most commonly, males are diagnosed with ductal carcinoma which begins in the milk ducts (lactiferous ducts). Paget disease forms in the breast ducts spreading cancer cells in or around the nipple. Rather rare, lobular carcinoma begins in the milk-producing glands (lobules). Lobular carcinoma is rare in men since male breast tissue has few lobules. And inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare yet aggressive disease which does not cause visible symptoms in the breast tissue such as a visible lump or mass. Signs of IBC may cause discoloration and redness to the breasts. Warning signs also include skin dimpling, pitted skin and flat or retracted nipple shape.
Elements increasing the probability of MBC are age and family history of breast cancer. Liver and testicular disease reduces the total amount of male hormones in the body while increasing estrogen levels. Taking estrogen, hormone related medication or being exposed to estrogen through other products will put the individual at higher risk for breast cancer. And with weight gain, fat tissue releases the hormone estrogen - activating breast cancer growth.
As a rare disease, the international community of clinical researchers have been improving knowledge of male breast cancer and future treatment options to improve people's quality of life.
“Male Breast Cancer.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 9 May 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/male-breast-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20374740.
Rudlowski, Christian. “Male Breast Cancer.” Breast Care (Basel, Switzerland), S. Karger GmbH, 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931115/.