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Home News and Update Year 2012 Men, Too, At Risk Of Breast Cancer

Men, Too, At Risk Of Breast Cancer

Times of India
04 February 2012
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune India
Condition Often Diagnosed Late In Men; At Least One Case In Pune Every Month: Experts

This may sound strange, but this is true. Breast cancer in men is on the rise in the city. At least one case of male breast cancer is seen in Pune every month, say experts. Contrary to breast cancer in women, male breast cancer is detected late and spreads faster.

“Although very rare, approximately 1% of all breast cancer is diagnosed in men. Male breast cancer is cancer that forms in the breast tissue of men. Though breast cancer is most commonly thought of as a woman’s disease, male breast cancer does occur,” said cancer surgeon Rakes Neve. There are 12 cancer surgeons in the city. Among them one case of male breast cancer is seen every month, Neve said.

According to medical literature, a one out of 100 breast cancer patient is a man. “At present we can not quantify the increase. But there is definitely a slight rise,” Neve said.

Men, Too, At Risk Of Breast Cancer

Neve elaborated, “It is not clear what causes male breast cancer. We only know that male breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin growing abnormally. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells. The accumulating cells form a tumor that may spread (metastasize) to nearby tissue, to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.”

Contrary to breast cancer in women, male breast cancer is detected late and spreads faster. “This is because there is lack of breast tissues in a male breast that facilitates the early spread to nearby body tissues,” Neve said.

Oncosurgeon Sujai Hegde said, “Male breast cancer is most common in the age group of 45–65 years, though it can occur at any age. The youngest case I have seen is a 31–year–old.”

Due to lack of awareness, this disease is often diagnosed late or misdiagnosed among men, leading to severe consequences, said doctors.

“The suspicion index among doctors is very low. Sometimes, they are also misdiagnosed with gynecomastia, a condition that leads to enlargement of male breasts. By the time it is detected, it already reaches an advanced stage. However, the disease is very much treatable,” said Hegde.

Men diagnosed with male breast cancer at an early stage have a good chance for a cure. Still, many men delay seeing their doctors if they notice unusual signs or symptoms, such as a breast lump. For this reason, many male breast cancers are diagnosed when the disease is more advanced.

Consequently, the survival rate for men diagnosed with breast cancer is about 76% compared to about 87% for women. “This is predominantly because it is detected late. This is in part due to the fact that many men are unaware that breast cancer is a disease that can affect them and also because men, in general, are reluctant to seek medical advice, especially about a breast issue,” Hegde said.

Men with mutation of the BRCA gene are more prone to developing breast cancer. These men are also likely to develop prostate cancer, say doctors.

Risk factors
n Older age n Exposure to estrogen
related drugs n Family history of breast
cancer n Obesity
Where breast cancer begins in men

Everyone is born with a small amount of breast tissue. Breast tissue is made up of milkproducing glands called lobules, ducts that carry milk to the nipples and fat. Women begin developing more breast tissue during puberty and men do not. Because they are born with a small amount of breast tissue, men can develop breast cancer

Types of breast cancer diagnosed in men

n Cancer that begins in the milk ducts. Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of male breast cancer. Nearly all male breast cancers begin in the breast ducts n Cancer that begins in the milk–producing glands. Lobular carcinoma is rare in men because men have few lobules in their breast tissue n Cancer that spreads to the nipple. In some cases, breast cancer can form in the breast ducts and spread to the nipple, causing crusty, scaly skin around the nipple. This is called Paget's disease of the nipple

Signs and symptoms of male breast cancer

n A painless lump or thickening in the breast tissue n Changes to the skin covering the breast, such as dimpling, puckering, redness or scaling n Changes to the nipple, such as redness, scaling or a nipple that turns inward n Discharge from the nipple

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