What is Male Breast Cancer?

Male Breast Cancer

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Male breast cancer survivor.
Male breast cancer survivor.

What is Male Breast Cancer?

Male breast cancer is a rare cancer in men comprising less than 1% of all breast cancers and less than 1% of all male cancers. It has many similarities to female breast cancer and shows a similar rate of incidence with almost similar risk factors, indicating a common etiology. Male breast cancer is associated with endocrine factors, family history of breast and ovarian cancer, bone fractures, obesity, and genetic mutations. Prostate cancer treatment in males has also been associated with higher incidence of breast cancer. The differences in breast cancer between male and female are tumor size, age at diagnosis, delay in the time to diagnosis and number of lymph nodes affected. However, this is likely due to the rarity of the disease and the absence of screening procedures for breast cancer in males. Male breast cancer typically presents as a painless mass on one side in a central location below the nipple. It will often have early progression to involve the nipple and affected patients may also noticed bloody nipple discharge.

Who Should Be Tested for Male Breast Cancer?

Testing for breast cancer is recommended for patients with Klinefelter syndrome which consists of an extra X chromosome in a male and increases the risk of male breast cancer by 20-50 times. In addition, males with known genetic mutation in the family of the tumor suppressor gene, BRCA2, are at higher risk for male breast cancer. Other risk factors include testicular abnormalities from mumps orchitis, undescended testicles, congenital inguinal hernia, sedentary lifestyle, infertility, exposure to radiation at the workplace, working in a perfume or cosmetic industry with exposure to estrogen-containing creams and products, or a high-temperature working environment experienced in steel mills, rolling mills, and blast furnace workers.

What Tests Are Available?

Ultrasound and mammography are the imaging tests of choice to initially evaluate symptoms of breast cancer because they are noninvasive techniques and can detect the presence of cancer in early stages. Cytologic techniques, such as fine needle, core or excision biopsies, have good accuracy and precision in diagnosing and staging breast cancer.

What Is The Treatment For Male Breast Cancer?

The standard treatment for male breast cancer is surgical resection via mastectomy. The surgery may also include removal of muscles and lymph nodes in the breast region. The surgical approach taken depends on the tumor size and degree of tumor invasion. Patients may also need preoperative or postoperative chemotherapy and radiation depending on the type of tumor.

For more information:


  • Giordano, S.H., et al., Breast carcinoma in men: a population‐based study. Cancer: Interdisciplinary International Journal of the American Cancer Society, 2004. 101(1): p. 51-57.
  • Donegan, W.L., Cancer of the breast in men. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 1991. 41(6): p. 339-354.
  • Weiss, J.R., K.B. Moysich, and H. Swede, Epidemiology of male breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers, 2005. 14(1): p. 20-26.

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