Breast Cancer in Men

Breast Cancer in Men

As promised in yesterday’s post, today we’d like to discuss male breast cancer. Yes, it happens. Luckily, it is uncommon (approximately 2,000 cases per year; approximately 400 of which prove fatal).

First, breast cancer in men presents with similar complaints or symptoms that it does in women, most commonly a palpable lump but also nipple inversion, discharge from the breast, skin dimpling or pain. There’s a list of twelve of the potential symptoms here. The most important part is knowing what’s normal for you(or him). If there are breast changes of any kind, it’s important to note them and take action.

There are factors that increase a man’s risk of breast cancer.  These include:

  • getting older – commonest age group for male breast cancer is age 60-70

  • BRCA2 gene mutation

  • family history of breast cancer (especially with a BRCA2 mutation)

  • chronic liver disorders

  • heavy alcohol use

  • obesity

  • exposure to large amounts of radiation early in life

  • Klinefelter’s syndrome (a genetic condition related to high levels of estrogen in the body)

To diagnose breast cancer in a male, we use the same tools and processes that we do in females. A visit to your primary doctor is always the place to start.  A thorough clinical exam by a medical professional can help to determine whether further evaluation with imaging is necessary.  If imaging is needed a mammogram will be ordered. Yes, men too can get mammograms. These exams are no more difficult for men. There are also breast ultrasounds and breast MRI exams that can be performed on men.

Much of the breast cancer experience for men is also the same as for women: treatments, surgeries, side effects of medications can be very similar. So learning about breast cancer in general can be very enlightening for men with breast cancer. In fact, we have this whole blog about breast health and many of the cancer articles apply to men as well as women. For additional information about men’s breast health, we recommend this brochure by Komen.




Image credit: Frederick Winters during 1904 Summer Olympics via Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Public Domain

Originall published 11/12/13 on