Breast cancer is most commonly associated with women; however, it is possible for men to get breast cancer, too, although it is much less common. Both men and women are born with a small amount of breast tissue, which comprises fat, lobules (milk-producing glands) and ducts (for carrying milk to the nipples). While women begin developing more breast tissue at puberty, men do not, but the small amount of breast tissue that is present from birth allows men to develop breast cancer.
Male breast cancer is rare and makes up less than 1% of all instances of breast cancer. This malignancy can occur in men of any age, but it is more prevalent in older men.
Types of male breast cancer
In both men and women, breast cancer can develop in different parts of the breast (the ducts, lobules or other breast cells).
The most common types of male breast cancer include:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ
- Invasive ductal carcinoma
- Invasive lobular carcinoma
“In situ” means the cancer has not spread, whereas “invasive” cancers have moved into surrounding tissue. “Ductal” indicates the cancer formed in the ducts, while “lobular” means it originated in the lobules.
Other types of male breast cancer include:
- Paget disease of the nipple
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Phyllodes tumor
Signs of male breast cancer
Symptoms of breast cancer can vary based on the specific type of cancer, but male breast cancer is most often noticed as a hard lump. Other symptoms may include nipple pain, an inverted nipple, nipple discharge, sores on or near the nipple, or enlarged lymph nodes under the arm.
How do you check for male breast cancer?
Men can check for breast cancer the same way that women do. It is important for men to be aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and to report any concerns to their physician. Just like women, men should familiarize themselves with how to perform a self breast exam, especially since mammograms are not typically prescribed for them as they are for women.
Treatment for male breast cancer
As a high-volume cancer center, Moffitt diagnoses and treats an exceptional number of breast cancer cases each year. This gives the multispecialty team of our breast cancer program unparalleled experience treating all forms of this malignancy, including rare types such as male breast cancer. All Moffitt patients receive individualized treatment plans based on their unique needs and circumstances.