Men Are Not Immune From Breast Cancer
Men, like women, have breast tissue and are therefore not immune from developing breast cancer. However these cases are rare, as in Canada and Quebec the occurrence of this disease in men represents less than 1% of all cases of breast cancers. In this country, on an annual basis, it represents about 200 men who get sick from the disease and another 55 who die from it.
Breast cancer develops the same way in men as it does in women. Thus, most of the information on this site applies to whoever is affected, be they male or female, particularly the origin and progression of the disease, detection and diagnosis and treatments.
Moreover, although breast cancer can develop in adults of all ages, it generally affects men between 60 and 70 years of age. The most common form of breast cancer in men is ductal carcinoma, which forms in the mammary ducts.
Main Possible Signs
Among the main possible signs, we find:
- a painless mass (nodule) in the breast;
- a slight discharge from the nipple, or inversion of the nipple.
These signs may be linked to a completely different, easy to treat problem, other than breast cancer. In fact, most disorders affecting the breasts are not cancer. If you are a man and you have one or more of these signs, it is important to consult a doctor. Only a medical examination by a health professional can determine the nature of the problem to establish the appropriate treatment.
The main risk factors for breast cancer in men are the following :
- having a family history of breast cancer;
- carrying a particular genetic mutation;
- having received an estrogen-based treatment;
- having a low level of androgen (male hormones) or a high level of estrogen (female hormone);
- having a disease or condition linked to gynecomastia (excessive development of mammary glands in men), Klinefelter syndrome (having two X chromosomes instead of one), or cirrhosis (chronic liver disease).
Note that these are risks of developing breast cancer, not a certainty of it happening. You may have one or more of these factors and NEVER develop breast cancer. Conversely, a man may develop breast cancer even in the absence of all these elements.
Useful Links on Male Breast Cancer
- Canadian Breast Cancer Network
- Canadian Cancer Encyclopedia
- Mount Sinai Hospital—Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre
- Directory of Health and Social Services Centres (CSSSs) in Quebec