Topic updated: September 2012

Male Breast Cancer

Male breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast.

Breast cancer may occur in men. Men at any age may develop breast cancer, but it is usually detected (found) in men between 60 and 70 years of age. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer.

The following types of breast cancer are found in men:

Radiation exposure, high levels of estrogen, and a family history of breast cancer can affect a man's risk of developing breast cancer.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for breast cancer in men may include the following:

Male breast cancer is sometimes caused by inherited gene mutations (changes).

The genes in cells carry the hereditary information that is received from a person's parents. Hereditary breast cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all breast cancer. Some altered genes related to breast cancer are more common in certain ethnic groups. Men who have an altered gene related to breast cancer have an increased risk of developing this disease.

Men with breast cancer usually have lumps that can be felt.

Lumps and other symptoms may be caused by male breast cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be seen if changes in the breasts are noticed.

Tests that examine the breasts are used to detect (find) and diagnose breast cancer in men.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

If cancer is found, tests are done to study the cancer cells.

Decisions about the best treatment are based on the results of these tests. The tests give information about

Tests include the following:

Survival for men with breast cancer is similar to survival for women with breast cancer.

Survival for men with breast cancer is similar to that for women with breast cancer when their stage at diagnosis is the same. Breast cancer in men, however, is often diagnosed at a later stage. Cancer found at a later stage may be less likely to be cured.

Certain factors affect treatment options and prognosis (chance of recovery).

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

Read the rest of this excellent article on male breast cancer, produced by the National Cancer Institute.

Man consulting with his doctor

New Jersey Resources