We think of breast cancer as a woman’s disease, and for the most part it is.
However, breast cancer can occur in men. About 10 percent of all cases of breast cancer in men are the type known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).
These cancer cells form in the breast ducts and remain there. They do not spread into the surrounding tissues of the breast or outside the breast itself. This type of breast cancer is almost always curable.
The most common type of breast cancer to affect men, accounting for the vast majority of cases in men, is infiltrating ductal carcinoma. This type of cancer does break through the wall of the duct to affect the fatty tissue of the breast.
Given the size and nature of male breast tissue, breast cancer in men is almost always caught early before it has spread, and is almost always easy to treat and cure.
Treatment for breast cancer in men does not have the same physical and psychological impact as it does for women. Issues of recurrence, reconstruction and estrogen involvement are absent in men.
Breast cancer in men most commonly presents as a lump in the breast. It is usually very small. There is usually no bleeding or discharge from the nipple in breast cancer in men. There is also usually no dimpling of the skin or changes in skin texture. These symptoms are not unknown, but they are very rare.
The rates of breast cancer in men are 1 out of every 1,000 men. Prognosis over 5 years doesn’t seem dependent on size of the tumor; instead, it seems to be dependent on the nature of the cancer cells themselves. This can only be determined through a breast biopsy or by post surgical evaluation of a mass that has been removed.
Because of the small nature of men’s breast tissue, and the fact that there is an entire classification of breast tissue they do not have because they are men, all of these things improve both the detection and the outcome of cancer in the male breast.
Cancer is easier to find as they are easier to access and evaluate because the breasts are smaller. Men typically have little psychological or emotional involvement with their breasts, and the surgical removal of breast tissue for men is usually a non issue.