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Important things to know about breast cancer in men – Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

The cases of breast cancer in men are very rare but they occur nevertheless. A lot of people even think that there is nothing like ale breast cancer. Most of these cases are detected in the later stages and most of the men who get this cancer fall in the 60-70 years age bracket. However, identifying the signs and detecting it early can help a person get the right treatment at the right time.

Unlike breast cancer in women, the cases of male breast cancer are few and far between. However, it is important for men to not think that they are never going to get this disease. His attitude can prove detrimental. Another important thing to know about breast cancer in men is that there is very little research in this area. Not so long ago, a lot of the treatments that doctors used to turn to for treating patients with this cancer were based on their experiences of treating breast cancer in women. However, things have changed drastically in the last few years. There is a lot more information available about this disease, which is helping doctors to treat patients according to their disease and not based on their own previous experiences of the same disease in women.

Like other types of cancers, the success of the male cancer treatment depends on how early the disease is diagnosed. But, diagnosing breast cancer in men at early stages is quite difficult. One of the biggest reasons for the usual delay in diagnosis is the lack of awareness surrounding the disease. Unlike women who know what changes to look out for and when, men don’t really know what to do. And this is majorly due to low awareness. This is also the reason why men are less likely to look out for help.

Another very important thing about breast cancer in men is that it affects them differently. The reason for this is the presence of a smaller breast tissue than their female counterparts. Though this small tissue can help in detecting the smallest of lumps, it also means that there is not a lot of space for cancer to grow. This can lead to the cancer spreading to nearby tissues at a faster rate.

This is the reason that more than one-third of the men with breast cancer are diagnosed when they reach the later stages. This is when the disease has reached others parts of the body. No wonder the survival rates of men with breast cancer are lower than women.

Symptoms of male breast cancer

  • Painless lump in one or both the breasts
  • Dimpling or wrinkling of the breast skin
  • Nipple discharge, retraction, and ulceration
  • Scaling or redness of the breast skin
  • Additional symptoms when cancer has already spread
  • Breast pain
  • Bone pain
  • Lymph gland swelling (in and around the underarm)

Male breast cancer diagnosis

As we had already alluded to, male breast cancer is often diagnosed at a much later stage. However, if you see any noteworthy changes in your breast, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Once you go to a doctor, you will be asked a few questions about your medical history as well as your family’s. The doctor will also ask you about history of radiation treatment or estrogen use. After conducting a thorough physical examination, your doctor will suggest you a few tests – ultrasound, mammogram, biopsy, and nipple discharge test. There is no difference in the tests that are used to diagnose breast cancer in men and women.

Male breast cancer treatment

If diagnosis is positive, there are several treatments options available to choose from. However, as soon as cancer is detected, you should make sure that you only choose a cancer expert for your treatment. Your successful treatment and recovery will depend on how experienced your breast cancer specialist is. Also, your cancer expert will choose the right treatment option for you by taking into account the size of the tumour and whether the cancer has spread to other body parts or not. Here are a few treatment options:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Estrogen hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Like diagnosis, treatment for breast cancer in men and women is also the same.

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