- Breast Cancer Slideshow
- Take the Breast Cancer Quiz
- Breast Cancer Screening
- Patient Comments: Male Breast Cancer - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Male Breast Cancer - Treatment
- Patient Comments: Male Breast Cancer - Experience
- Patient Comments: Male Breast Cancer - Diagnosis
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
- Male breast cancer facts
- What is male breast cancer?
- How common is male breast cancer?
- What are causes and risk factors of male breast cancer?
- What are the different types of male breast cancer?
- What are male breast cancer symptoms and signs?
- How is male breast cancer diagnosed?
- What is staging of male breast cancer?
- What is the medical treatment options for male breast cancer?
- What health care specialists treat male breast cancer?
- What is the outcome (prognosis) of male breast cancer? What is the survival rate for male breast cancer?
- Is it possible to prevent male breast cancer?
Quick GuideSigns of Cancer in Men: Could it Be Cancer?
What are the different types of male breast cancer?
The most common type of male breast cancer is infiltrating ductal carcinoma, which is also a common type of breast cancer in women. Ductal carcinoma refers to cancers with origins in the ducts (tubular structures) of the breast, and the term infiltrating means that the cancer cells have spread beyond the ducts into the surrounding tissue. On the other hand, lobular cancers (cancers of the milk glands), common in women, are extremely rare in men since male breast tissue does not normally contain lobules.
Other less common types of cancers of the breast that have been reported in men include ductal carcinoma in situ (cancer in the ducts that has not spread beyond the ducts themselves), cystosarcoma phylloides (a type of cancer of the connective tissue surrounding the ducts), and Paget's disease of the breast (a cancer involving the skin of the nipple). Some other types of breast cancer that occur in men are named for their growth patterns and microscopic appearance of the cancer cells, including papillary carcinoma, inflammatory carcinoma, and medullary carcinoma.
About 85% of breast cancers in men have estrogen receptors on their cell membranes. Estrogen receptors on the cell membranes allow estrogen molecules to bind to the cancer cells. Estrogen binding to the cancer cells can stimulate cell growth and multiplication.
What are male breast cancer symptoms and signs?
The most common clinical sign of breast cancer in men is a firm, usually painless mass located just under the nipple. There may not be other associated symptoms. The average size of breast cancer in men when first discovered is about 2.5 cm in diameter. The cancer may cause skin changes in the area of the nipple. These changes can include
- ulceration of the skin,
- skin puckering or dimpling,
- redness, scaling, or itching of the nipple; or
- retraction (turning inward) of the nipple.
Bloody or opaque discharge from the nipple may also occur. Less than 1% of cases are bilateral (occurring on both sides).
Breast cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other tissues can cause other symptoms depending upon the tissues or organs affected.