Male breast cancer is a rare cancer that affects older
Breast cancer normally affects women. However, there are
rare cases where cancer develops in the male breast. Just as in the case of other
cancers, an abnormal and uncontrolled cell division in the breast tissue leads
to male breast cancer. The cancer is rare and accounts for less than 1% of all
breast cancer cases.
Though male breast
cancer can occur at any age, it is most common in older men. Most of the cases
are diagnosed between the ages of 60 and 70 years. Diagnosis is usually
confirmed by biopsy. An early diagnosis ensures complete cure. Unfortunately
most cases of male breast cancers are diagnosed when the disease is advanced. Treatment
of male breast cancer often involves surgery. Alternative options such as
radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy are also
Cause of Male Breast Cancer
The exact cause of male
breast cancer is not known. A cancer is the result of abnormal and uncontrolled
cell division. Rapidly dividing abnormal breast tissue cells accumulate
producing a tumor. The tumor may spread to adjacent tissues, to lymph nodes or
to any other part of the body. Tumor spread to a region of the body other than
its origin is called metastasis.
A small amount of breast
tissue is present during birth irrespective of gender. Women develop more
breast tissue during puberty while men do not. Thus, men carry a small amount of nonfunctioning breast tissue
tissue comprises of milk-producing glands (lobules), ducts that carry milk to
the nipples, and fat.
Based on the structure
in which cancer originates, male breast cancer may be of three types (there are
other types apart from these, but are much rarer):
1) Ductal carcinoma
This cancer begins in the milk ducts and is the most common type of male breast
2) Lobular carcinoma
This cancer begins in the lobules, i.e. milk-producing glands. It is rare in
men, since male breast tissue has few lobules.
3) Pagetís disease of the nipple
Pagetís disease of the nipple is a cancer in and around the nipple. It is
usually associated with an underlying cancer of the breast.
in a protective gene called BRCA2
may increase the risk of acquiring breast cancer. These genes are inherited