How Common Is Breast Cancer in Men?

Medically Reviewed on 6/10/2022

Breast cancer is more common in women. However, men can get breast cancer too.
Breast cancer is more common in women. However, men can get breast cancer too.

Breast cancer is more common in women. However, men can get breast cancer too. The chances of occurrence of breast cancer in men are rare. Out of every 100 breast cancer diagnosed in the United States, 1 is found in a man.

What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer in men?

Men develop signs and symptoms of breast cancer similar to those in women, such as:

  • Swelling in the breast area or breast lump
  • The breast lump feels hard and is irregular in shape
  • The breast lump is fixed (it does not move inside the breast)
  • The breast lump usually is painless
  • Nipples are retracted (turned inward)
  • The area around the nipple is sore, that is, inflamed and swollen
  • There is discharge (may be bloody or watery) from the nipple

Even if a man gets some of these signs and symptoms, it may not be because of breast cancer. It may point to other conditions such as mastitis or a fatty lump (lipoma). If soreness and swelling do not subside within a week or two and if the lump is growing, you should consult your doctor.

How is breast cancer diagnosed in men?

Your doctor will first examine and press your breasts to look for changes. If they think you might have an infection, they will prescribe you a short course of antibiotics and see the response to this treatment.

If the swelling or soreness does not subside, they may order one or more of the tests that include:

  • Ultrasonography: The doctor will move a probe over the breast to look for abnormal changes in the breast.
  • Mammogram: A mammogram is like taking an X-ray of your breast.
  • Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI of the breast will provide an idea of the extent and depth of the breast tumor.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is a surgical procedure to remove a small piece of the breast tissue and send it to the laboratory for examination. In the laboratory, the tissue sample is checked under a microscope to look for the cancer cells. It provides a definitive diagnosis of breast cancer. The test may also tell you whether the cancer is a human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive cancer or hormone-positive cancer. Depending on the results, the medications will differ.


Breast Cancer Awareness: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment See Slideshow

What is the treatment of breast cancer in men?

Your doctor will first find the extent, depth, and type of your breast cancer. They will also consider your age, overall health, and personal preferences. The various treatment options include:

  • Surgery:
    • Depending upon the extent of the tumor in your breast, your doctor can perform any of the two surgeries: partial mastectomy or complete mastectomy. Partial mastectomy, also known as lumpectomy and breast-conserving surgery, removes only the tumor and aims to conserve the maximum part of the breast. This type of surgery is most commonly thought of more in women than in men. Complete mastectomy is performed when the tumor has most likely spread all over the breast.
  • Chemotherapy:
    • Chemotherapy involves administering anti-cancer drugs in the form of intravenous (IV) injections or oral pills. Your doctor may give it before the surgery to shrink the tumor so that surgery can be on a smaller tumor easily. It may also be given after the surgery if the tumor seems to have spread beyond the breast.
  • Radiation therapy:
    • Radiation involves focusing waves of high-energy beams on the tumor to shrink it. Similar to chemotherapy, it may be given before or after the surgery.
  • Targeted therapy:
    • Depending upon the status of your biopsy report, your doctor may plan to administer HER2-targetted drugs or hormonal therapy. These medications are generally given to people with advanced breast cancer or to those in whom breast cancer fails to respond to all other treatments.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/10/2022
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