Men and breast cancer

Monday, 22 October 2012

Men and breast cancerAlthough extremely rare, breast cancer in men is just as deadly as it is in women – perhaps even more so. Here’s what you need to know…

What is it?

Widely considered to be exclusively a women’s disease, male breast cancer does occur, albeit rarely: only about 1% of all breast cancer will occur in men. Even though guys don’t have bosoms (poor dears), you still have a small amount of breast tissue.

In fact, the ‘breasts’ of a grown man are similar to the breasts of a girl before puberty takes hold, so you have a few ducts surrounded by breast and other tissue. This tissue grows thanks to female hormones, but men – who don’t secrete these hormones in the same quantities – won’t develop it. However, breast tissue is present, so men can still develop breast cancer. In fact, men get the same types of breast cancers that women do, although cancers that involve the milk producing regions of the breast are exceedingly rare.

Who does it affect?

As with women, it’s not possible to say exactly what causes breast cancer in men, although risk factors commonly include:
age (it’s most common in men between the ages of 60 and 70, and it is extremely rare in men under the age of 35);
having a family history of breast or ovarian cancer in a close family member;
having a history of radiation exposure near the chest.
High oestrogen levels may also contribute, though this is a less common risk factor, as is a rare genetic condition called Klinefelter’s syndrome.

What are the symptoms?

They’re very similar to women:
a lump around the breast area;
a discharge from the nipple;
a change in the shape or appearance of the nipple;
a change in the shape or appearance of the breast area, such as swelling or dimpling;
swollen lymph nodes under the arm.
Like breast cancer in women, with early detection there is a good chance of an effective cure. However, since it (understandably) seldom occurs to men to link early symptoms to the disease, diagnosis is often delayed until more severe symptoms are present, by which time the cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes. In this case, it may be too advanced for effective treatment.

It’s imperative that you seek medical attention if you notice any changes whatsoever in your breast tissue.

What are the treatment options?

A physical exam, mammogram and biopsy will most likely be used to make a diagnosis, after which standard treatment involves removing the cancerous tissue from the area and then killing any remaining cancerous cells. Usually this will involved surgery and possibly radiotherapy (X-rays are used to destroy cancer cells), chemotherapy (drugs are used to destroy cancer cells) and/or hormonal therapy (which involves decreasing the amount of oestrogen in the body, helping to retard cancer growth).

Again, the effectiveness of these treatments depends on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. So next time you’re flexing those pecs in front of the bathroom mirror, why not take a closer look?

Image: Shutterstock.com

Written by

Rachel McGregor is a Cape Town journalist (and part-time narcissist) specialising in food, health and lifestyle-related features. In her spare time she loves to cook and poke fun at hipsters. Sometimes she dreams of giving it all up and becoming a millionaire.

Want to write a comment? Sign in here sign up now
Tell your friends
  1. Sue1N

    Thank you for the informative article! We need more on health issues!

    4 years ago •

  1. beautilicious

    cancer is a very serious issue, ppl need to be more sensitive with those that suffer with cancer. i have lost loved ones through cancer and it was a very painful and traumatic time. thank you beautysouthafrica for putting up a very useful article. we all can beat cancer-united!!

    5 years ago •

  1. Angelisha

    Never knew men were also effected … Thanks … Informative!!

    5 years ago •

  1. Firefly

    Wow!! I had no clue!! Thanks, very informative!!

    5 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    Very interesting facts – I had no idea that men are also effected.

    5 years ago •

  1. BeautyBloggess

    Great article and definitely advise guys to keep it in mind.

    5 years ago •

  1. Anita

    Wow i didnt even know men could get breast cancer, thank you for this article

    5 years ago •

  1. Chicara

    I once heard about this and people refsed to believe me. It’s very serious!

    5 years ago •

BeautySouthAfrica - your pre-shop stop for all things beauty

Beautysouthafrica.com is South Africa’s most comprehensive online beauty magazine and your pre-shop stop for product information and reviews. From the latest international make-up trends to the hottest new products on the market, we offer insights into the glamorous world of beauty. Join like-minded beauty fanatics in our loyalty program and earn points, trial beauty products and share your experiences.

Become a beauty addict!

Get great deals and climb the ladder to a Gold Star!

×

Sign In

×