Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. About 1 percent of breast cancers in the U.S. occur in men .
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 [3,157].
Breast cancer rates in U.S. men have remained stable over the past 30 years .
In 2016, it was estimated there would be :
Prognosis for breast cancer in men is similar to prognosis in women of the same age and cancer stage [158-160].
However, men are often diagnosed at a later stage than women .
Men may be less likely than women to report symptoms, which may lead to delays in diagnosis .
The 5-year relative survival rate for men with breast cancer is 84 percent .
This means men with breast cancer are, on average, 84 percent as likely as men in the general population to live 5 years beyond their diagnosis.
The 10-year relative survival rate for men with breast cancer is 72 percent .
Survival rates are averages and vary depending on each man’s diagnosis and treatment.
Routine breast cancer screening is only recommended for men at high risk due to an inherited gene mutation or a strong family history.
Most breast cancers in men begin in the milk ducts of the breast (invasive ductal carcinomas).
Fewer than 2 percent breast cancers in men begin in the lobules of the breast (invasive lobular carcinoma) . In rare cases, men can be diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (a non-invasive breast cancer) or inflammatory breast cancer.
Paget disease of the breast (Paget disease of the nipple) can also occur in men .
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 nipple.
Although rare in both men and women, it is relatively more common in men .
Learn about the anatomy of the breast.
Benign (not cancer) breast conditions can occur in men.
All men diagnosed with breast cancer should have genetic testing .
Mutations in the BRCA2 gene increases the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer in men [164-165].
Learn more about genetic testing.
Learn more about BRCA2 gene mutations and breast cancer in men.
Treatment for breast cancer in men is similar to treatment for women.
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 after surgery, depending upon the stage of the breast cancer.
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 5-10 years. It can be hard to complete this long period of therapy.
However, to get the most benefit, it’s important to take the full course of treatment prescribed by your health care provider. Men who complete the full course have higher rates of survival .
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 an app) may help .
However, you do not need to panic if you miss a day or two.
Learn more about the importance of following your treatment plan.
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 with a taxane.
Social support is important after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Men with breast cancer may feel isolated. Support groups for breast cancer may only have female members, so joining a support group for men with any type of cancer may be more helpful.
There are also online support groups and other support resources for men with breast cancer. For example, the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network has an online support for men with breast cancer.
Learn more about social support and support groups.
Find support resources.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
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*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.
Men Can Get Breast Cancer: Find Out More About It
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