Breast cancer in men
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Breast cancer in men – Top five facts

By Dr. Gaurav Deka Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 08:13
When we think of breast cancer, we almost always also think of women. But do you know that men also have the same breast tissue and the same lymphatic system in their chest and can thus also develop breast cancer? Let’s unravel some facts about it.

Prevalence and Inheritability

Breast cancer in men is not as common as it is in women. It is hundred times more common in women than in men. The average lifetime risk for men getting this variety of cancer is about 7 percent whereas in women it is much higher. Also, like other cancers, breast cancer gene can also be inherited. In men, the inheritance rate is approximately 10-20 percent. In women, the inheritance trace rate is 5-10 percent.

The symptoms to look for

It could start as any mass or outgrowth in the breast. In times of doubt, one should look for dimpling or puckering of the skin, retraction of nipples, any kind of discharge from the nipples, redness, ulceration or scaling. It could also begin as changes in the colour of the nipples. These conditions, once developed, should be immediately reported to a physician and shouldn’t be ignored.

Risks and aggravating conditions

Alcohol and certain kinds of drugs can accentuate conditions of breast cancer in men. Drugs and medications result in raising a man’s estrogen level. In certain cases, it could even lead to a condition called gynecomastia – a condition that leads to swelling of male breast tissue. Being overweight and liver diseases can also aggravate these conditions. A visit to the physician and thorough check-ups is must to distinguish between abnormal benign growth (such as in gynecomastia) and breast cancer

Prevention and care

Early detection of breast cancer is difficult in men as they would hardly notice a lump in breast or changes in the colour of the nipples. They are highly unlikely to consult a doctor when the lump would grow large. So breast cancer in men is detected at a considerably advanced stage. Also, in men, cancer doesn’t take much time to grow to the lymph nodes and other areas, as the breast tissue aren't as dense as in women. They aren't located far apart. Because of which the prognosis is way poorer in men than in women. Lifestyle choices – maintaining a good body mass index, regular exercise and cutting down alcohol consumption could be simple ways to prevent such a condition.

Treatment options

Irrespective of the gender and the type of cancer, treatment depends on the stage at which it is detected. And in both the gender, the primary treatment is surgery – specifically known as mastectomy. Mastectomy is the process of removal of a certain cancerous portion of the breast tissue. This could be followed by hormone therapy, which takes care of the imbalance of estrogen in men. Sometimes, radiation therapy, as well as chemotherapy (oral pills and tablets) are employed in adjunct with the above-mentioned treatment. Especially when it's a case of heavy metastasis – in other words, abnormal spreading of the cancer cells to other areas – radiation therapy becomes imperative.

Have you noticed any abnormal growth around your breasts? If you have any questions on this topic, ask us on our Facebook page or visit our discussion forum - Let’s Talk.

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