Breast cancer in men

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It’s not just a women’s health issue. Learn about symptoms, risks and prevention.

Yes, men can get breast cancer too. Men have breast tissue that can develop breast cancer, with about 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S. being found in men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What are the most common forms of breast cancer found in men?

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) 

Do men experience different symptoms than women? Not necessarily. Here are the most common symptoms men experience:

  • A lump or swelling in the breast.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.

These types of symptoms can also occur alongside conditions unrelated to cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms or changes, make an appointment to see your doctor right away. Early detection and treatment are the best strategies for reducing the risk of death and improving your prognosis.

What are the risk factors for men?

Risk factors can increase your chance of getting breast cancer. Keep in mind, having risk factors does not mean you will get breast cancer.

Age. The risk for breast cancer increases with age, with most breast cancers found after age 50.

Inherited genetic mutations. Inherited changes (mutations) in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, increase breast cancer risk.

A family history of breast cancer. Your risk increases if a close family member has had breast cancer.

Radiation therapy treatment. Men who’ve had radiation therapy to the chest have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.

Hormone therapy treatment. Drugs containing estrogen used to treat prostate cancer in the past can increase breast cancer risk.

Klinefelter syndrome. A rare genetic condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome, which leads to the body making higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of androgens (hormones that develop and maintain male sex characteristics).

Other testicle conditions. Injury to, swelling in, or surgery to remove the testicles can increase breast cancer risk.

Liver disease. Cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver can lower androgen levels and raise estrogen levels in men, increasing the risk of breast cancer.

Overweight and obesity. Older men who are overweight or have obesity have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.

How can I reduce my risk?

  • If a close family member has had breast cancer or has a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, it’s important for your doctors to know. They may refer you to genetic testing.
  • Also, keep a healthy weight, exercise regularly and avoid or limit alcohol.