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Breast Cancer In Men?

Recently, Dr Jason Dranove had a mastectomy (breast tissue removal) to prevent breast cancer.

Yes, you read that right.                    

It’s rare, but males can develop breast cancer and have surgery to remove breast tissue.  Dr Dranove, a paediatric gastroenterologist at Levine Children’s Hospital in North Carolina, United States, chose to have the operation after discovering he carries the mutated gene BRCA1  that is known to increase the risk of breast cancer and several other cancers in both women and men, reports The Star.

Dr Dranove discussing treatment options for male breast cancer. He tested positive for the breast cancer gene BRCA1 after his uncle was diagnosed with breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.

When Dr Dranove’s tissue was tested, Dr White discovered that he had a very early stage breast cancer, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

“If he didn’t have the genetic testing and he didn’t come to see me now,” Dr White said, “he would have been in my office later, with breast cancer”.

All people, whether male or female, are born with some breast cells and tissue. Even though males do not have milk-producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer, National Breast Cancer explains.

Statistics of breast cancer among men

“One in every 100 breast cancer patients, is a man,” said Datuk Dr Imi Sairi Ab Hadi, Chief Division and Senior Consultant Surgeon, Endocrine and Breast Surgery at the Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital (HRPZII).

He added that the mortality rate for men diagnosed with breast cancer is higher than that of women, as their cancer is more aggressive.

Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma

Vast majority of breast cancer that affects men is Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma (IDC),which means cells in or around the ducts begin to infect surrounding tissue. However, very rarely a man might be diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, or Paget disease of the nipple.

One example of a man that has been diagnosed with early stage of breast cancer is Dr Dranove, as has been depicted above.

Possible factors

  • Exposure to radiation
  • High levels of the female hormone, estrogen
  • Family history of breast cancer, especially breast cancer that is related to the BRCA2 gene.

Signs & symptoms

Males who have breast cancer can have the same symptoms as breast cancer in women. Some of these symptoms includes:

  • A painless lump or thickening in your breast tissue
  • Changes to the skin covering your breast, such as dimpling (lekuk), puckering (kedutan), redness or scaling (bersisik)
  • Changes to your nipple, such as redness or scaling, or a nipple that begins to turn inward
  • Discharge (lelehan) from your nipple

Anyone who notices anything unusual about their breasts, whether male or female, should contact their physician immediately. Early detection of breast cancer increases treatment options and often reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer.


According to American Cancer Society, to remove the cancer, surgery is carried out. Most often in males, a mastectomy is done. If breast-conserving surgery is done, it is followed by radiation therapy to the remaining breast tissue.

Genetic testing

Although results of treatments are very similar to women at the same stage of detection, a man diagnosed with breast cancer should also consider seeing a genetics counselor. If a man tests positive for a defective gene (most commonly either BRCA1 or BRCA2) that can lead to a future diagnosis of breast cancer, his children have a 50% chance of carrying the gene. In addition:

  • A son of a man with breast cancer who carries the defective BRCA2 gene has approximately a 6% chance of eventually developing breast cancer and just over 1% with BRCA1.
  • A daughter of a man with breast cancer who carries the defective gene has a risk between 40% and 80% of eventually developing breast cancer.
  • Men with a genetic tendency to breast cancer also have higher risk of getting prostate cancer at an earlier age than usually diagnosed.
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