Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen (about one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S.) .
Men have much less breast tissue compared to women and are not routinely screened for breast cancer. Breast cancer screening is only recommended for some men at higher risk due to an inherited gene mutation or a strong family history of breast cancer. For these men, screening may increase the chances that breast cancer is found early, when the chances for survival are highest.
If you have concerns about your risk of breast cancer, talk with your health care provider.
Some men may have a higher risk of breast cancer, including those with a :
Learn about BRCA2 and BRCA1 gene mutations and breast cancer risk in men.
Learn about family history of breast cancer and breast cancer risk.
Learn about genetic testing for BRCA2 or BRCA1 mutations.
Breast cancer screening recommendations for men at higher risk are different from recommendations for women. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends that men at higher risk for breast cancer :
Men at higher risk for breast cancer should also be aware of the warning signs of breast cancer (learn more).
Men with a BRCA2 gene mutation should also have prostate cancer screening starting at age 40 .
Men with a BRCA1 gene mutation should consider prostate cancer screening starting at age 40 .
The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump . However, any change in the breast (or chest area) or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer in men, including [48-49]:
Men tend to have much less breast tissue compared to women, so some of these signs can be easier to notice in men than in women.
These symptoms may also be signs of a benign (not cancer) breast condition. If you notice any of these signs or other changes in your breast or nipple, see your health care provider.
Learn about benign breast conditions in men.
BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene 2) is one of the most well-known genes linked to breast cancer in both men and women. Men with a BRCA2 mutation are also at an increased risk for other types of cancer, such as prostate cancer .
A man can inherit a BRCA2 mutation through either parent. And, a man who has a BRCA2 mutation can pass the mutation on to his daughters and sons.
BRCA2 mutations increase the risk of breast cancer in men [15,50-51]. The lifetime risk of breast cancer (up to age 70) is about one percent for men in the general population and about seven percent for men with a BRCA2 mutation [50-51]. This means in a group of 100 men without a mutation, about one will develop breast cancer by age 70. While in a group of 100 men with a BRCA2 mutation, about seven will develop breast cancer by age 70. Note that this risk is not 100 percent. Most men with a BRCA2 mutation will never have breast cancer.
However, breast cancer in men is more likely than breast cancer in women to be related to an inherited gene mutation. Up to 40 percent of breast cancers in men may be related to BRCA2 mutations, while only five to 10 percent of breast cancers in women are considered to be due to an inherited gene mutation . For this reason, it’s usually recommended that men diagnosed with breast cancer have genetic testing for BRCA2 mutations (learn more about genetic testing).
Other genes (including BRCA1) are under study for possible links to breast cancer in men .
Learn about genetic testing.
Find statistics on breast cancer in men.
Learn more about risk factors for breast cancer in men.
Learn about treatment for breast cancer in men.
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