While International Men’s Day is celebrated every year on November 19 to focus on men’s health and wellbeing among several other core objectives, there is a lack of awareness regarding male breast cancer. Men have breast tissue that doesn’t grow, unlike women, but it can develop into breast cancer, a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissues of the breast. Though the ratio of breast cancer cases among men is negligible vis-à-vis women, the risk increases with age.
The major risk factor for breast cancer among men is family history among several other factors. While hereditary breast cancer makes up about 5-10 per cent of all breast cancer, men having mutated gene related to breast cancer, more common in certain ethnic groups, have an increased risk of the disease. There are various symptoms to detect possible breast cancer and one should consult the doctor if any of those symptoms can be felt. Men with breast cancer usually develop lumps near the breast which is a major sign of the disease.
Several tests and procedures are available to detect and diagnose breast cancer in men including clinical breast exam (CBE), mammogram, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) among others. During CBE, the doctor feels breast and underarms to find a lump or any other aberration and suggests mammogram in case of doubt. In Mammography, the breast is pressed between two plates and X-rays are used to take pictures of breast tissue.
The probability of men surviving breast cancer is similar to that of women when diagnosed at an early stage. But in the case of men, breast cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage and less likely to be cured. The cure for disease and chance of recovery largely depends on the stage of cancer, man’s age and general health, estrogen-receptor and progesterone-receptor levels in the tumour tissue.