While women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, men are not excluded from being affected. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s support groups for men going through breast cancer by helping them fight the stigma and create awareness of the importance in early detection of the disease. This can include getting the men in your lives being made aware too!

Male breast cancer accounts for fewer than 1% of all cancers in males, with an average risk of 1 in 1000 men. Even though it’s uncommon, it can happen, and most of the time, males are diagnosed with breast cancer when it’s already advanced. This is because many men do not have regular screening practices since many of them aren’t even aware that they can develop breast cancer.

Males, contrary to popular belief, do possess breast tissue and are therefore also susceptible to breast cancer. Due to the lack of breast tissue in men, cancer spreads to nearby organs more rapidly, making this a more pressing issue for male patients.

The indications and symptoms are the same for both sexes and include:

  • Swelling of the breast area
  • Ulceration on the breast or nipple
  • Tender or an inverted nipple (pulled inwards)
  • Rash on or around the nipple
  • Lump in the underarm area
  • Oozing discharge from the nipple, sometimes with blood

Here are some facts about what causes male breast cancer, according to Dr Jenson Sow Wen Jen, Resident Consultant Oncologist at Aurelius Hospital Nilai:

  • Getting older: Age is a major factor in this risk, and males over 60 years old are more vulnerable. However, there have been instances where younger men have received a breast cancer diagnosis
  • Genetic mutation: Elevated risk of breast cancer is associated with mutations in genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Family history of breast cancer: Having a close relative who has breast cancer increases a man’s risk of developing the disease.
  • Hormone therapy treatment: A higher risk of male breast cancer has been linked to the use of oestrogen-containing drugs in the treatment of prostate cancer in the past.
  • Klinefelter syndrome: In males, this refers to a very unusual genetic disorder in which there is an extra X chromosome. This can cause an increase in oestrogen production and a decrease in androgens.
  • Radiation: There is an increased risk of breast cancer in men who have undergone radiation therapy to the chest.
  • Testicular issues: The risk of breast cancer can rise after an injury to the testicles or after their removal.
  • Liver disorder: Men with cirrhosis of the liver may have elevated oestrogen levels and decreased testosterone levels, putting them at greater risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Overweight and Obesity: Overweight or obese older men are more likely than men with a normal weight to develop breast cancer.

Breast cancer treatment choices for men are similar to those for women. An operation is often followed by radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy for men. Understanding the symptoms early is crucial for obtaining effective therapy for cancer of any kind.

Schedule an appointment with Dr Jenson Sow Wen Jen if you’re interested in learning more about your symptoms or risk profile — whether you’re a man or woman. During the month of October, Aurelius Hospital Nilai will host free educational workshops to conduct breast examinations at certain clinics.

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