On International Men’s Day, let’s spend some time discussing issues that are not talked about much. We are all aware of breast cancer in women but not many are familiar with the male breast cancer phenomenon.

Yes, it’s rare, but exists. A disease that contributes not less than 1.5 per cent to male breast cancer cases in India.

Those diagnosed have high chances of survival if at the initial stage.

What are the risk factors involved:

  • Not many are sure about the factors involved in male breast cancer, but it’s likely to be diagnosed in those over 60 years of age.
  • Those with a family history of the disease have a higher possibility of the diagnosed as the BRCA2 gene of the breast cancer is inherited by children from their parents.
  • Another cause can be the presence of estrogen-related drugs which will cause obesity, testicular disease, therefore, increasing breast cancer chances.
  • Klinefelter syndrome, a condition in which boys take birth with an additional X chromosome (XXY instead of XY) may reduce the production of testosterone, hence, increasing the possibility of the disease.
  • Male breast cancer is mainly because of hormonal and genetic reasons.

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What are the types of male breast cancer?

  • Boys have the same breast tissue as women. The male breast tissues have ducts that carry milk to nipples but very few lobules (milk-producing glands).
  • When it comes to girls, during puberty the hormonal changes promote the growth of breast tissue while in boys, due to low levels of estrogen, even during adulthood, their breast tissues don’t expand much.
  • The most common of breast cancer among males is ductal carcinoma. Other forms of male breast cancer include Paget disease and inflammatory breast cancer.

Symptoms of male breast cancer:

  • Painless lump or thickness in the breast tissue
  • Deformation of the skin around breasts such as redness or dimpling
  • Regular bleeding around the nipple area

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Diagnosis and interventions

  • Imaging tests such as mammography can be conducted to check for lumps in the breast areas
  • In the case of deformities around the breast area, it will be necessary to go for a bone, CT or PET scan

Treatment

  • It depends on the type of cancer and the stage it has been diagnosed at.
  • At the advanced stage, a mastectomy or excision of the breast will be required. This will be followed by radiation or chemotherapy.
  • An alternative treatment called systemic hormonal treatment with Tamoxifen is recommended post the major surgeries.

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