Male Breast Cancer - Diagnosis

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How is male breast cancer diagnosed?

Diagnosis of breast cancer requires identifying cancer cells in tissue specimens obtained by taking a sample of the growth - also called a "mass" or "tumor" - by the technique of biopsy. Since men have little breast tissue, cancers in male breasts are easily palpable (located by feel) and, therefore, are easily accessible to biopsy. Fine needle aspiration or needle biopsy of a suspicious mass can usually establish a diagnosis. A needle is inserted into the mass and tissue from the suspicious area is withdrawn. Microscopic examination of the tissue by a pathologist establishes the diagnosis.

Other techniques that may be used to diagnose breast cancer in men include incisional (removing a portion of the suspicious tissue) or excisional (removing the mass in its entirety) biopsy of a breast mass. If nipple discharge is present, microscopic examination of a smear of the discharge can sometimes establish the diagnosis.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: carolk, 35-44 Male (Caregiver) Published: June 07

My brother had a small BB-sized lump on his breast for years. He's a mechanic and said one day a wrench slipped and the pain was so bad it took him to his knees. Soon after, the lump started growing. He thought it was from a hit he had taken and that it would eventually get better. When he finally went to the doctor, the doctor said he'd do a biopsy but felt sure it wasn't cancer. The surgeon who did the biopsy said yes it is cancer, and he could tell because this lump had grown so big that he could actually feel the tail of the cancer that had made its way around my brother's side. My brother was 48 at the time of his surgery. His cancer is stage 4 and had spread throughout his body and bones. My brother is a five-year cancer survivor. He's still receiving chemo.

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Comment from: Russ, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: November 12

I had a fever that was caused by a treatment for a low level of bladder cancer and was sent by the urgent care to the emergency room (ER) to the hospital with an order for a CAT scan. After the CAT scan the ER doctor determined that some kind of mass was near and under my left nipple. He then ordered a chest x-ray and determined that there was a small mass under my left nipple. My primary care doctor sent me to the breast center for a biopsy which has shown some cancer and we are waiting for more results to determine treatment.

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