February 1, 2022

Breast Cancer in Men: What You Need to Know

When thinking about breast cancer, one doesn’t typically think of men being diagnosed with it.  Although it is not nearly as common as it is in women, it something that undoubtedly deserves awareness. February 4th is World Cancer Day, and our team of surgeons would like to shed light on breast cancer in men and what you should be aware of.

Key Facts about Male Breast Cancer:

  • About 1% of all breast cancer diagnoses are in men.
  • There are around 2,650 cases of male breast cancer each year.
  • Approximately 1 in 830 men will get breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • The most common kind of breast cancer found in men is one of the same kinds that occurs in women:
    • Invasive ductal carcinoma

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in Men:

  • Age
    • As men get older their risk for breast cancer increases.  Most men are diagnosed after 50 years old with an average age of 67.
  • Family history of breast cancer, especially in male relatives.
  • Genetic mutations to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
  • Having diseases that cause estrogen levels to rise in the body (Klinefelter syndrome and liver disease)
  • Obesity
  • Previous radiation therapy in the chest area

Common Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men:

  • Lump in the breast or lymph nodes under the armpit
  • Nipple changes à color, rash, discharge, etc.
  • Reddening of breast skin
  • Pitted or dimpled breast skin

These symptoms can be associated with other conditions, so it is important to see your doctor with any breast symptoms or changes.

How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed in Men?

Most commonly, a man will discover one of the symptoms listed above and seek medical attention.  His doctor will then record your known risk factors along with a breast examination.  They will then do further tests such as a mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI.  If the images come back suspicious, a biopsy of the breast tissue will be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

How is Breast Cancer in Men Treated? 

Breast cancer is treated in the same ways as it is in women.  These options include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation therapy.  Your doctor will do tests to be able to find the best treatment option for your case.

Male breast cancer can be successfully treated with lumpectomy and radiation therapy which is also called breast conservation therapy.  13% of men with breast cancer undergo breast conversion therapy while the rest are mainly treated with a mastectomy.

There is a 1% to 2% chance of a male patient with breast cancer developing a new breast cancer in the opposite breast.  Because of this very small risk, it is not recommended that a preventative mastectomy is performed on the opposite breast.

Important Things to Note:

  • 8% of all male breast cancer patients carry a BRCA2 gene defect. It is important to undergo genetic testing because this information could be lifesaving, especially for female relatives.
  • 5% of men with breast cancer will develop a second type of cancer. The most common cancers associated with male breast cancer are prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, and colon cancer.  You should be screened as recommended by your doctor.

Are Survival Rates Different for Men and Women?

When the stage and biology of the cancer are similar in both men and women, the survival rate is the same.  For both men and women, the earlier the breast cancer is detected and treated, the better the chances are of long-term survival.


“We are proud to offer personalized, up-to-date breast cancer treatment for both men and women close to home.” says Dr. Ann Chuang, breast surgeon at Premier Surgical Network.


To schedule a consultation or learn more, please visit: https://www.premiersurgicalnetwork.com/ or give us a call at 844-973-0002