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Everything You Should know About Male Breast Cancer

While relatively uncommon, male breast cancer is not totally improbable. Since it mostly gets diagnosed in the later stages, it can become life-threatening. If cancer gets detected in the earlier stages, the treatment is more likely to be effective. This is why there is a need for creating awareness about the signs and symptoms of this disease in men.

Since males have lesser breast tissue as compared to women, the cancer is more likely to spread into the surrounding parts of the body. This brings forward the need for immediate treatment as soon as the cancer is detected or any symptoms are visible.

Symptoms

Some symptoms that could be indicative of breast cancer and require you to contact experts for help include:

  • Lump in the breasts
  • Nipple redness/retraction
  • Scaling of breast skin
  • Ulceration/discharge from nipples
  • Pain in breasts
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Bone pain

Being aware of these symptoms can help in the early diagnosis of the disease and save lives.

Causes

A factor that is believed to be a common cause of breast cancer development is excessive female hormone (estrogen) levels in males compared to the male hormone (androgen). Several factors can lead to the development of breast cancer, although its exact cause is still unknown.

  • Environmental factors- Men over 72 years are more likely to develop this cancer. Other factors that could lead to cancer development include exposure to radiation, organic solvents, alcohol consumption and low physical activity.
  • Genetics- Genetic mutations have shown to have an effect on cancer development. People with a family history of this condition are more likely to acquire the disease in the presence of certain environmental factors.

  • Medical history- Men with certain medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, thyroid or liver diseases etc. are more likely to develop breast cancer.

Diagnosis

In case a person observes symptoms associated with the condition, they should immediately see a doctor. The doctor finds out the family history of the patient and any existing medical condition. This is followed by a thorough physical examination of the patient. The diagnosis of breast cancer in men is made with the following tests:

  • Mammogram
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy

In some cases, the doctor can also conduct a nipple discharge test to carry out the diagnosis.

Treatment

Once the cancer is detected, there are several approaches to treatment that a breast cancer specialist can take. The treatment depends on how far cancer has progressed.

  • Surgery- This involves surgically removing the whole breast, part of the breast or surrounding lymph nodes.
  • Radiation- Radiation therapy is provided to patients to get rid of any traces of cancer after the removal of breasts.
  • Targeted therapy- This is a relatively new type of cancer treatment that does not affect the whole body like chemotherapy but only targets specific proteins that are associated with cancer development.
  • Hormone therapy- This therapy works by reducing the effect of the estrogen hormone, which slows the spread of cancer.
  • Chemotherapy- Chemotherapy can help if the disease has progressed and spread to other body parts. It is also used to prevent cancer from returning in the patient’s body.

All these treatment methods are useful in the early stages. Timely detection is thus the primary concern for breast cancer patients.

Lack of awareness

Since there is lesser awareness regarding breast cancer amongst men than women, they are less likely to pay attention to the symptoms. This can become a problem in early diagnosis. Looking out for signs of breast cancer, even in men can help in the timely diagnosis and proper treatment. Creating awareness about breast cancer, its symptoms and associated risks is thus critical. Changing the outlook towards cancer can help make people willing to seek professional help as soon as they see some visible changes in their breasts.

Early diagnosis and effective treatment is the only way to combat breast cancer in men. The breast cancer specialist at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research centre can provide the best care to cancer patients. Such a highly qualified medical staff is essential for providing proper treatment to the patients. They are skilled in the latest medical technologies and treatment methods.

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