Loved Ones Of Male Breast Cancer Patients
The news and implications of a breast cancer diagnosis are not only challenging for the man going through it, but also for those closest to them, such as the mans partner, family and close friends. The mans loved ones may experience a range of emotions, such as shock, fear, worry, powerlessness and may not know what to say. There may be concerns about finances or changes in the dynamics of relationships breast cancer treatment can also impact on the mans sexual wellbeing.
If you are man diagnosed with breast cancer, you may want to start by telling your family and a few close friends about your diagnosis, which may help you become familiar with other peoples reactions. After you feel more comfortable and confident talking about your diagnosis, you may wish to let others know.
Further information and support are also available for carers of men diagnosed with breast cancer.
Genetic Testing In Men With Or At Risk For Breast Cancer
Breast cancer in men is sometimes caused by inherited mutations in certain genes. You can inherit gene mutations from your mother or your father and can potentially pass them on to your sons and daughters.
The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 1% for men who have a BRCA1 gene mutation and 7-8% for men who have a BRCA2 gene mutation, compared to a risk of 0.1% for men in the general population. Mutations in the ATM, CHEK2, PALB2, and other genes are also associated with breast cancer in men, but more research is needed to understand the specific risks from those genes.
According to guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, all men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer should be offered genetic counseling and genetic testing for genetic mutations linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.
Men who havent been diagnosed with breast cancer but who have a family history of breast, ovarian, pancreatic, or prostate cancer, or who have a family member who was found to have an inherited gene mutation that increases the risk of cancer, should also consider getting genetic testing.
Here are some of the reasons its useful for you and your medical team to know if you have a gene mutation linked to a higher risk of breast cancer:
How Can A Man Get Breast Cancer Screening In Charleston Sc
Ask your primary care provider about where to schedule a breast cancer screening. Its no secret that prevention saves lives, so talk to your doctor today!
Just like in women, treatment for breast cancer in men depends on the size of the tumor and how much it has spread. Once detected, treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. To learn more about Male Breast Cancer Treatment, please visit the National Cancer Institutes website.
Here are some local medical centers in Charleston, SC offering breast cancer screenings:
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What Are The Stages Of Male Breast Cancer
After diagnosing breast cancer, providers classify the disease using a process called staging. Providers measure the tumor and look at its location. They determine whether the tumor has spread to lymph nodes, surrounding breast tissue or other parts of your body. Lymph nodes are small organs that move fluid through the body and help protect you from illness.
The stages of male breast cancer are:
Stage 0: Cancer cells are only in the ducts. Cancer has not spread to other breast tissue.
Stage I: The tumor is small and hasnt spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage II: One of these is true:
- The tumor is smaller than 20 millimeters and has spread to a few axillary lymph nodes. Axillary nodes are lymph nodes in the armpit.
- The tumor is 20 mm to 50 mm across and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes . Or the tumor is 20 mm to 50 mm and has spread to the axillary lymph nodes .
- The tumor is larger than 50 mm and has not spread to a few axillary lymph nodes.
Stage III: Cancer has spread typically to several lymph nodes. Cancer cells may also be in the chest wall or skin. It has not spread to other areas of the body away from the breast.
Stage IV: Cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body away from the breast. Cancer can spread to all areas of the body, including the lungs, bones, liver or brain.
Where Breast Cancer Starts
Breast cancers can start from different parts of the breast. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple . Some start in the glands that make breast milk . Men have these ducts and glands, too, even though they aren’t normally functional. There are also types of breast cancer that start in other types of breast cells, but these are less common.
Although many types of breast cancer can cause a lump in the breast, not all do. There are other symptoms of breast cancer you should watch for and report to a health care provider.
Its also important to understand that most breast lumps are benign and not cancer . Benign breast tumors are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside of the breast and they are not life threatening. Any breast lump or change needs to be checked by a health care provider to determine whether it is benign or malignant and whether it might impact your future cancer risk.
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Should Men At Higher Risk For Breast Cancer Get Screening Mammograms
Breast cancer is rare in men and according to the National Cancer Institute, screening is unlikely to be beneficial. Men who are higher risk for breast cancer, such as those who have BRCA mutations or a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer should talk to their doctor about screening mammograms.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer In Men
A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease, such as breast cancer.
But having a risk factor, or even many, does not mean that you are sure to get the disease. Some men with one or more breast cancer risk factors never develop the disease, while most men with breast cancer have no apparent risk factors.
We don’t yet completely understand the causes of breast cancer in men, but researchers have found several factors that may increase the risk of getting it. As with female breast cancer, many of these factors are related to your body’s sex hormone levels.
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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Male breast cancer is rare, and often the diagnosis is delayed, leading to very high mortality. To improve outcomes, an interprofessional team approach that consists of an oncologist, surgeon, radiation therapist, dietitian, and mental health counselor is recommended. The majority of these patients initially present to their primary care provider or nurse practitioner. Unlike females, there may not be any risk factors, and hence any mass should be worked up, and a malignancy ruled out. The primary care providers should never assume that breast growth is simply benign gynecomastia. Men who are more than 50 years of age should be worked up to rule out breast cancer if there is a lesion.
Once diagnosed, the pharmacist should educate the patient on chemotherapeutic drugs, and the oncology nurse and clinician should discuss radiation therapy and its benefits.
An aspect of male breast cancer that is frequently overlooked is the negative stigmas that these patients routinely face, which leads them to feel quite isolated and vulnerable. Psychosocial support through various interprofessional teams should be offered to allow for a more normalization of their condition and experience as well as to create an atmosphere of nonjudgmental dialogue to address their concerns and potential stigmas.
Stage for stage the prognosis for male breast cancer is the same as in females.
How Big Is A Breast Cancer Tumor
Cancer is found in 4 to 9 axillary lymph nodes or in the lymph nodes near the breastbone or the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters. Small clusters of breast cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes or the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters. Cancer has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or to the lymph nodes near the breastbone .
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Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Men
The most common symptom for men with breast cancer include:
- lump in the breast that is nearly always painless
- oozing from the nipple that may be blood stained
- a nipple that is pulled into the breast
- swelling of the breast
- a sore in the skin of the breast
- lump or swelling under the arm
- a rash on or around the nipple
If you have any of these symptoms it is important to go to your GP straight away. Finding a cancer early gives the best chance of successful treatment.
In The 14th Century Breast Cancer Was Known As The Disease Of:
Back then, the condition was so common among religious women, most of whom had no children, that it became known as nunsâ disease.
Women who have many children and get pregnant at a younger age have a lower risk. That may be because pregnancy reduces a womanâs total number of periods. Scientists think having more period-related hormones may raise the chances of getting breast cancer.
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When To See Your Gp
See your GP if you have:
- a lump in your breast
- any other worrying symptoms, such as nipple discharge
- a history of breast cancer in members of your family and you’re worried about your chances of getting it
It’s very unlikely you have cancer, but it’s best to get your symptoms checked. Your GP will examine your breast and can refer you for tests and scans for breast cancer if needed.
If you do not have symptoms but have a clear family history of breast cancer, your GP may refer you to a genetic specialist to discuss your risk of getting it.
Paget Disease Of The Nipple
This type of breast cancer starts in the breast ducts and spreads to the nipple. It may also spread to the areola . The skin of the nipple usually appears crusted, scaly, and red, with areas of itching, oozing, burning, or bleeding. There may also be an underlying lump in the breast.
Paget disease may be associated with DCIS or with infiltrating ductal carcinoma. It is rare and accounts for about 1-3% of female breast cancers and a higher percentage of male breast cancers.
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Male Breast Cancer
If you notice any symptoms of breast cancer, call your provider right away. Its essential to see your provider for an evaluation as early as possible. Early detection and treatment can greatly improve the prognosis.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Many men dont think breast cancer can happen to them. So they may not recognize signs when they appear. If you think something isnt right with your chest tissue, see your provider for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment can have a significant impact on the long-term prognosis. Be honest with your provider about your symptoms and how long youve had them. If you have any risk factors for male breast cancer, talk to your provider about how you can reduce your risk.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/15/2021.
Are You A Man Who Has Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
Many people are surprised to learn that men can develop breast cancer. Fortunately, breast cancer in men is rare and it accounts for less than 1% of all cancers in men.
The good news is that most men survive breast cancer. In Australia, 85% of men diagnosed with breast cancer are alive five years later. Most men fully recover and the breast cancer does not return.
Men of all ages can be affected by breast cancer, however, the average age of diagnosis is 69.
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What Are The Risk Factors
Several factors can increase a mans chance of getting breast cancer. Having risk factors does not mean you will get breast cancer.
- Getting older. The risk for breast cancer increases with age. Most breast cancers are found after age 50.
- Genetic mutations. Inherited changes in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, increase breast cancer risk.
- Family history of breast cancer. A mans risk for breast cancer is higher if a close family member has had breast cancer.
- Radiation therapy treatment. Men who had radiation therapy to the chest have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Hormone therapy treatment. Drugs containing estrogen , which were used to treat prostate cancer in the past, increase mens breast cancer risk.
- Klinefelter syndrome.Klinefelter syndrome is a rare genetic condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome. This can lead to the body making higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of androgens .
- Certain conditions that affect the testicles. Injury to, swelling in, or surgery to remove the testicles can increase breast cancer risk.
- Liver disease. Cirrhosis 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 than men at a normal weight.
Certain Factors Affect Prognosis And Treatment Options
The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:
- The stage of the cancer .
- The type of breast cancer.
- Estrogen-receptor and progesterone-receptor levels in the tumor tissue.
- Whether the cancer is also found in the other breast.
- The mans age and general health.
- Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred .
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What Is The Most Common Type Of Breast Cancer In Men
The most common type of breast cancer in men is infiltrating ductal cancer. This is cancer that starts in milk duct and spreads to nearby tissues.
Other less-common types of breast cancer in men include inflammatory carcinoma and Paget disease of the nipple. A type of breast cancer called lobular carcinoma in situ is very rare in men. This is because men don’t have much lobular tissue. Lobular tissue is where breast milk is made.
Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer In Men
The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or chest area .
However, any change in the breast or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer in men including :
- Lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast, chest or underarm area
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin of the breast
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge
These may also be signs of a benign breast condition.
Because men tend to have much less breast tissue than women, some of these signs can be easier to notice in men than in women.
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What Are The Treatments For Male Breast Cancer
Male breast cancer treatment depends on the type and stage of the disease. Your team of providers will discuss your options with you. Your medical history will help guide what treatment is best for you. Treatments include:
- Surgery: During breast cancer surgery, your provider removes as much of the tumor as possible. You may need a lumpectomy or a mastectomy . Because men have limited breast tissue, mastectomy is more commonly done. You may also need surgery to remove lymph nodes.
- Radiation: Your provider uses targeted radiation therapy to kill cancer cells. Radiation for breast cancer usually follows surgery .
- Chemotherapy : Your provider delivers chemotherapy drugs into a vein, usually through an infusion. You might also take oral chemotherapy pills . These medications kill cancer cells and stop them from multiplying. You may receive chemo treatments over several weeks or months.
- Hormone therapy : Your provider prescribes medications that affect your hormones. These drugs may lower levels of estrogen or block the effects of estrogen. Providers usually use hormone therapy to treat women with breast cancer, but it can be an effective treatment for men, too. These medications treat breast cancers that use hormones to grow. Hormone therapy can be given in the form of pills and/or injections.
- Medications: Several medications kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. Your provider will discuss these medications with you. These may include medications called targeted therapy.
A Family History Of Breast Cancer And Other Factors Can Increase A Man’s Risk Of Breast Cancer
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer not having risk factors doesnt mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for breast cancer in men may include the following:
- Treatment with radiation therapy to your breast/chest.
- Having a disease linked to high levels ofestrogen in the body, such ascirrhosis or Klinefelter syndrome .
- Having one or more female relatives who have had breast cancer.
- Having mutations in genes such as BRCA2.
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