About male breast cancer:Breast cancer affects approximately 2 in every 100,000 men, making it very rare in comparison to breast cancer in women. However, the two types of cancer have a lot of similar characteristics and symptoms. Breast cancer starts in the small amount of fatty tissue that men have around the breast area. Inside this tissue are many lobes, which can potentially be affected by cells that change and grow out of control. As cells continue to grow abnormally, a tumour will form, which can often be felt as a small lump on your chest. Over time, breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body such as the liver, lungs, bones, and brain. As cancer spreads, it becomes harder to treat. For this reason, it is important that you see a doctor if you have concerns.
Breast cancer causes and risk factors:A risk factor is something that increases the chance of breast cancer developing. Below are some of the most common risk factors:
- Age: Males over the age of 65 are most likely to develop breast cancer.
- Increase estrogen levels – Some diseases require the use of female hormones such as estrogen. Other diseases such as cirrhosis will cause the body to produce more estrogen on its own. Increased estrogen can contribute to more breast tissue being produced and increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Obesity – Men with a high body-mass index (BMI) are more likely to contract breast cancer.
- Ethnicity – Men with darker, more pigmented skin have a higher risk of contracting breast cancer.
Symptoms of male breast cancer:Diagnosing breast cancer early can allow doctors to quickly and effectively treat it. This reduces the chances of it spreading or worsening over time. For this reason, it is important to see a doctor if you have any concerns. The most common symptoms associated with breast is a small lump located on the breast area. Since men have smaller amounts of breast tissue, this lump will often stand out more and be easier to notice. Men may also notice a red, scrunched up area of skin or other irregularities in skin condition on the breast. Breast tumours can either be benign or malignant. A benign tumour is not cancerous, whereas a malignant tumour is. If there is a tumour on your breast, a doctor will usually perform a series of tests to determine if it is malignant. This usually includes a physical examination, mammography (x-ray), ultrasound or a biopsy (removal and examination of breast tissue).
Treatments for male breast cancer:There are several treatments that are commonly used to treat breast cancer. Each treatment has its own strengths, weaknesses and side effects. For this reason, it is important that you look over all treatment options and ask for advice from your doctor. Below are some of the most common forms of treatment for male breast cancer:
Surgery:Surgery is the removal of a cancerous tumour via an operation. The aim of surgery is to not only remove the tumour, but prevent the tumour from growing back over time. There are two common types of surgery for male breast cancer:
- Lumpectomy – A lumpectomy is the removal of the tumour as well as some healthy surrounding tissue. Because men do not have as much breast tissue, a lumpectomy is not always an option.
- Mastectomy – A mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. This procedure is performed more commonly on men and is often more effective in preventing cancer from reoccurring.
Radiation therapy:Radiation therapy is the use of radioactive particles to target and destroy cancer cells. For breast cancer, radiation therapy is often recommended after surgery to prevent malignant turmours from forming again. In some cases, t is used as an alternative to surgery when a tumour is inoperable. Common side effects of radiation therapy include:
- Swelling of targeted areas.
- Irritated or discoloured skin
Chemotherapy:Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. It achieves this by preventing cancer cells from growing and spreading. For breast cancer, chemotherapy will often be used to shrink a tumour before surgery. This will make the surgery easier to perform and reduce the risk of complications. Chemotherapy may also be used after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring. Common side effects of chemotherapy depend on the drugs used and the patient’s treatment schedule. However, some of the most common side effects include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Increased risk of infection
- Loss of hair
- Nausea and vomiting