Cancer is a disease that knows no boundaries- gender, creed, caste, ethnicity. While it predominantly affects women, it’s essential to acknowledge that men can also be at risk of developing breast cancer, albeit at a significantly lower rate.
Despite the outward differences in breast appearance between men and women, the anatomical similarities mean that male breast tissue can still become a breeding ground for this disease, influenced by female hormones.
In an exclusive conversation with Zee News English, Dr Rahul S Kanaka, Consultant – Surgical Oncology, Manipal Hospital, Hebbal, Sarjapur and Yeshwantpur shares how men are equally prone to breast cancer risk and simple ways to recognize the early signs and symptoms.
Causes and Risk Factors of Breast Cancer In Men
Several factors contribute to the development of breast cancer in men. Dr Rahul highlights, “Some of the identified causes for breast cancer in men include progressing age (men in their 6th and 7th decades are at greater risk), a family history of breast cancer, genetic factors such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, hormonal factors (increased levels of estrogen), gynecomastia, obesity, radiation exposure, and other conditions such as liver disease, Klinefelter syndrome, etc., that may cause hormonal imbalance.”
Breast Cancer: Similarities to Women
“Although breast cancer in men is rare and accounts for up to 0.5-1% of all the reported breast cancer cases, the types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and management are similar in both men and women. All three major types of breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), and inflammatory breast cancer are seen in men,” says Dr Rahul.
Breast Cancer in Men: Signs and Symptoms
Awareness is crucial because early detection is often the key to successful treatment. The symptoms of breast cancer in men may include a noticeable lump or swelling in the breast, changes in the nipple or the skin surrounding it, unexplained pain in the breast or nipple, and swollen lymph nodes in the armpit. Regrettably, the lack of awareness among men about their susceptibility to breast cancer results in delayed diagnosis and, subsequently, poorer treatment outcomes compared to women.
Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast cancer in women receives widespread attention and funding, yet breast cancer in men remains largely overlooked. Many people are unaware that men can also fall victim to this disease. Regular self-exams, clinical breast exams, and consulting healthcare providers about any concerns are essential steps in detecting the disease in its early stages.
By raising awareness, conducting regular checks, and seeking prompt medical attention, we can confront this disease together, irrespective of gender, and work towards a future where breast cancer is less deadly for all.