A lump in your breast or under the nipple does not necessarily means there is cancer present in the tissues. That said, it is possible, and although breast cancer in men is fairly rare, it happens in males more often than many are aware.
In the United States, the most available and completed statistics for the year 2010 indicate that approximately, 270,000 women and approximately 2,100 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer. Additionally, approximately 41,000 females and 450 males in the United States died from breast cancer in the same year. Overall, approximately 400 men are diagnosed with the disease each year compared to 50,000 in their female counterparts.
Breast cancer is even more emergent. As such, it is important to check your breast regularly especially if there is a history of breast cancer in your family. So what should you look for? And how to know when to seek medical help?
Symptoms of Breast Cancer In Men
- Any abnormal texture or a lump in the armpit area or close to or under/behind your nipple
- Any liquid discharge (clear or pus) or ulcers and/or sores
- Any change in the appearance of the areola or nipple including even the direction or point of the nipple
As mentioned earlier, breast cancer in men is rare and the risk factors that can increase your risk are multifactorial - so a combination of factors contribute to the disease. It is important to note however, that because certain factors increase your risk for breast cancer, this is not a certainty you will definitely get the disease. Similarly, not having the risk factors also does not rule out the possibility of you getting the disease. There really is no way to say for sure. There are people, for example, who have never smoked, with no history, and they will develop aggressive lung cancer and vice versa.
Having said that, the most commonly known risk factors for breast cancer in men include but are not limited to:
- Genetics - A history of cancer in the family
- Exposure to certain toxic chemicals and radiation
- Hormonal imbalance
- Prostate cancer
- Increasing age (especially over 60 - though very young boys/men can and have developed breast cancer)
Diagnosis and Treatment
When boys and adult men develop a surplus of breast tissue than what is considered normal, a condition unrelated to cancer called gynaecomastia is usually the cause. However, should you notice any unusual or abnormal changes to your breast tissue, or nipple, please have your doctor examine this immediately. The procedures and techniques for diagnosing and treating breast cancer in men are for most part the same used in women. Your doctor will appropriate next steps accordingly and may refer you for further tests such as mammograms, and even biopsies if needed. Treatments could include but not limited to: Tamoxifen and Chemotherapy.
How to Reduce Your Risk Of Getting Breast Cancer
Although the risk of developing breast cancer for men is low, you can still take steps to reduce the effects of some of the above-mentioned risk factors. For example, losing weight, and maintaining a healthy weight, eating right, and exercising are just some of the steps that can be taken.
Remember, the sooner you get help the sooner your treatment will begin, and the greater your chances of beating the disease will be.
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