Breast cancer may be widely associated with women, but men are not immune to it. Gary.L. Robinson, 79, a retired airline executive, experienced pain in the left portion of his chest. As he had undergone two heart procedures, he was rushed to a hospital ICU to check if it was a coronary problem. However, the cardiologist found everything normal, except for a lump in the breast tissue. A visit to the oncologist confirmed that it was breast cancer.
Male breast cancer is too conspicuous to be ignored. Globally, it is estimated that for 170 breast cancer cases among women, there is one male afflicted with the disease. And, it is different from the cancer of the chest wall. This may have to do with factors like occupation, obesity, stress, family history, inherited gene mutations, alcohol intake and prior exposure to radiation. Knowing the symptoms may help save one’s life. The stages, causes and treatment are the same for both men and women. Generally, men tend to detect it late because of ignorance.
Men and women have the same types of tissues in their breasts. Men just have fewer ducts and globules. These are not as developed as in women. That explains the overall incidence rate among males. Tumours in men are easier to feel, but detection gets delayed, this could be dangerous. The breast tissue in men is smaller. Therefore, the cancerous cells affect the chest wall and can spread to other organs easily.
Breast cancer in men is not biologically more aggressive that it is in women. The appallingly low level of awareness among men worsens things. By the time they seek treatment, the condition is beyond conventional treatment and therapy. That explains the extremely slim survival rate for men with breast cancer.
Signs Of Male Breast Cancer
Sign of breast cancer are thickening of the breast; skin dimpling or crinkling; a new retraction or indentation on the nipple; redness, dryness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin; spontaneous, clear or bloody discharge from the nipple; lump mass or swelling in the breast, nipple or chest wall; and inversion of the nipple. According to experts, ageing is a key risk factor in men. The average age of men with breast cancer at the time of diagnosis is 67 years. The risk of cancer is higher if members of the family – blood relatives- have had breast cancer. About 20 per cent of men with breast cancer have close relatives with the disease. The gene mutation responsibility for some breast cancers in women probably accounts for about 10 per cent of breast cancers in men.
Causes Of Male Breast Cancer
Heavy alcohol intake can put men at risk. This is because the liver plays a key role in sex hormone metabolism by producing binding proteins that carry hormones in the blood. These protein affect hormonal activity. Oestrogen related drugs used in hormonal therapy for men with prostate cancer – slightly increase the risk of breast cancer in men. The risk is small compared to the benefits of the treatment in slowing the growth of prostate cancer. Men taking high doses of oestrogens as part of a sex change procedure are at a higher risk. Obesity is another factor for male breast cancer as fat cells convert male hormones into female hormones.
The treatment for breast cancer usually includes mastectomy, lymph node biopsy, adjuvant therapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Hormone therapy is more widely used in treating the disease in men.