• Above all, we make a difference.
  • Treatment for Breast Cancer in Men

    Breast Cancer in Men
    Fact Sheet

    Men Can Get Breast Cancer


    Interactive Treatment Navigation Tool

    Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. About one percent of breast cancers in the U.S. occur in men [135].

    Breast cancer risk is much lower in men than in women. The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000 in U.S. men and 1 in 8 for U.S. women [135-136].

    Breast cancer rates in U.S. men have remained stable over the past 30 years. In 2015, it is estimated there will be [137]:

    • 2,350 new cases of breast cancer
    • 440 breast cancer deaths

    Prognosis and survival

    Prognosis for breast cancer in men is similar to prognosis in women of the same age and cancer stage (more on cancer stage) [138-140].

    The five-year relative survival rate for men with breast cancer is 84 percent [141]. This means men with breast cancer are, on average, 84 percent as likely as men in the general population to live five years beyond their diagnosis. The 10-year relative survival rate for men with breast cancer is 72 percent [141]. These rates are averages, though, and vary depending on each person’s diagnosis and treatment.

    Breast cancer screening for men

    Routine breast cancer screening is only recommended for men at high risk due to an inherited gene mutation or a strong family history (learn more).

    Types of breast cancer in men

    Most breast cancers in men begin in the milk ducts of the breast (invasive ductal carcinomas). Fewer than two percent breast cancers in men begin in the lobules of the breast (invasive lobular carcinoma). Learn about the anatomy of the breast.

    In rare cases, men can be diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (a non-invasive breast cancer), inflammatory breast cancer or Paget disease of the breast (Paget disease of the nipple) [139]. Paget disease of the breast is a breast cancer that begins in the milk ducts of the breast tissue and spreads to the skin of the nipple. It can cause a scaly rash on the skin of the nipple. Although rare in both men and women, it is relatively more common in men [140].

    Benign breast conditions in men

    Benign (not cancer) breast conditions can occur in men (learn more).

    Treatment for breast cancer in men

    Treatment for breast cancer in men is similar to treatment for women.

    Surgery and radiation therapy

    The main treatment for breast cancer in men is surgery to remove the tumor. This is usually a mastectomy. Lumpectomy (also called breast conserving surgery) is rarely used because of the small size of a male breast.

    Some men may have radiation therapy following surgery, depending upon the stage of the breast cancer.

    Learn more about mastectomy and lumpectomy.

    Learn more about radiation therapy.

    Learn more about breast cancer staging.

    Hormone therapy

    Most breast cancers in men are hormone receptor-positive. For men with hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, hormone therapy (with tamoxifen) is usually the first drug therapy used.

    Tamoxifen is taken in pill form, every day for at least five years. It can be hard to complete this long period of treatment. However, to get the most benefit of tamoxifen, it is important to take it for the full course of treatment prescribed by your health care provider. Men who complete the full course have higher rates of survival [142].

    If you have any side effects with tamoxifen, talk with your provider. If you have trouble remembering to take tamoxifen, a daily pillbox or setting an alarm on your watch or mobile device (you may be able to download a mobile app) may help [3]. However, you do not need to panic if you miss a day or two.

    Learn more about tamoxifen.

    Learn more about hormone receptor status.

    Learn more about the importance of following your treatment plan.

    Chemotherapy and targeted therapy

    For men with hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, chemotherapy is usually the first drug therapy used.

    For men with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, chemotherapy may be given before tamoxifen therapy, depending on the cancer stage.

    Men with HER2-positive breast cancers may be treated with trastuzumab (Herceptin) plus chemotherapy containing a taxane.

    Learn more about chemotherapy.

    Learn more about trastuzumab.


    Komen Support Resources

    • Calls to our breast care helpline 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) are answered by a trained and caring staff member Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET and from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT. Our helpline provides free, professional support services to anyone with breast cancer questions or concerns, including breast cancer survivors and their families. You can also email the breast care helpline at helpline@komen.org
    • Our Message Boards offer online forums to share your thoughts or feelings about subjects related to breast cancer. Our Men Can Get Breast Cancer Too forum offers men a place to share their experiences with other male breast cancer survivors. 


    Komen Perspectives

     Read our perspective on breast cancer in men (May 2013).*

    *Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is only current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date at this time.

    Updated 07/30/15


      Treatment Home  

    Breast Facts for Men


Tools & Resources


Related Video



1-877 GO KOMEN