Breast cancer has traditionally been thought of as an exclusively female cancer, but thanks to the many awareness campaigns surrounding breast cancer, increasing numbers of men are now aware that they too can get breast cancer. This is good news, because early diagnosis greatly improves the prognosis.
Men who notice anything unusual within their breast/chest area are right to take note and see their doctor. However, breast cancer is not the only cause of male breast symptoms by any stretch of the imagination, and the nature of your symptoms can give you some ideas as to what you may be dealing with even before you make that appointment — which yes, you should definitely do.
What Are The Symptoms Of Male Breast Cancer?
Men who have notice a hard but painless lump within their breast tissue, skin changes such as the notorious "orange peel skin" (which is exactly what it sounds like), scaly skin, redness, and skin or a nipple that starts inverting should take special care to make an appointment with their doctor right away. Discharge from the nipple is another serious cause for concern in the context of male breast cancer.
Another cause of a "lump" in the male breast is gynecomastia, a condition in which breast gland tissue develops in males and their chests start looking more like the typical female breast. While gynecomastia is a normal developmental process in some males, it is also linked to certain medical conditions including hemochromatosis, Klinefelter Syndrome, liver disease, testicular torsion, hyperthyroidism, HIV, kidney disease, and yes — even tumors in other areas of the body. Though gynecomastia is not a sign of male breast cancer in any way, it should still be checked out by a doctor.
Men with gynecomastia can also develop mastitis, a very painful infection of breast tissue, in rare cases.
Male Breast Issues That Cause Pain
If your breast changes are painful, you are very unlikely to be dealing with male breast cancer indeed. Painful breast changes in men are more likely to be the result of numerous other medical conditions. Let's take a brief look.
Tender and soft lumps are most likely to be cysts. These fluid-filled sacs can make the surrounding tissues feel uncomfortable because of the pressure they exert as well. Cysts can be drained when they are painful. They are usually benign, however.
Runner's nipple, a condition caused by friction of the kind often experienced by joggers, is another fairly common problem in male breasts that can lead to chaffed nipples that may even bleed. Though horrendously uncomfortable, runner's nipple is not dangerous and can be prevented by placing a band aid over your nipple before you go for a run.
Fibroadenomas are benign lumps in the breast that will feel firm and rubbery, and will easily move underneath the skin. They are very unlikely to cause pain or discomfort. More common in women, fibroadenomas can strike men as well. Most are smaller than a centimeter in diameter, but they can grow as big as five centimeters as well.
"Better safe than sorry." Seriously. You may feel especially strange about seeing your doctor for a breast problem as a man, but even if you are pretty sure that your condition is benign, it is always good to get yourself checked out for breast changes. You will either be reassured that you are dealing with something completely benign, or you will be able to receive treatment for your condition in a timely manner.
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