Male Breast Cancer

Breast cancer in men is very rare, accounting for fewer than one percent of all breast cancers. The prognosis of this cancer is very good in the earlier stages, with a 100 percent survival rate at stages 0 and 1, or when the tumour is localized to the breast and has not spread.

Risk factors in men can include a family history of breast cancer, since they are susceptible when they inherit mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Age is also a factor, as estrogen levels increase with age. The average age at diagnosis is 65 years. Certain diseases, conditions, or treatments can increase the levels of hormones such as estrogen, which contributes to the development of breast cancer. Lifestyle factors that may also contribute are excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and obesity.

Symptoms of breast cancer in men can be easier to detect than in women, because they have much less breast tissue. Among these are:

  • A lump that feels like a hard knot or a thickening in the breast or under the arm.
  • Any new irregularity on the skin or nipple, such as redness, scaliness, puckering, or a discharge from the nipple.

Treatment will usually consist of surgery of the lump, plus excision of a nearby lymph node to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymphatic system. Most breast cancers in men are invasive and ductal; this means the cancer cells have spread out of the lining of the ducts and into surrounding breast tissue.


Information taken from Canadian Cancer Society.