Breast cancer can occur in men, although it is significantly less common than in women, with a risk of about 1 in 1000. Men possess breast tissue that can develop into cancer due to various possible risk factors. Men need to be aware of it, as early detection is crucial for successful treatment outcomes.

How commonly does breast cancer affect men?

Male breast cancer is a rare disease, accounting for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases. In fact, the likelihood of a breast cancer diagnosis among all cancer cases in men is as low as 0.5%. 

Male breasts also consist of fatty tissue, stroma, nipples, ducts, and lobules, like females, influenced by hormonal changes during puberty. Any abnormality observed in the shape or color of the breast area could potentially be related to breast cancer in men.

What are the main causes of breast cancer in men?

The exact cause of breast cancer is still unknown. However, several risk factors and conditions can lead to it.

It has been demonstrated that men with a history of gynecomastia are more likely to develop breast cancer. This elevated risk is associated with hormonal imbalances in estrogen and testosterone levels.

Metastasis from tumors in other parts of the body is indeed another potential cause of breast cancer. Cancer cells from tumors elsewhere in the body can spread to the breast, leading to secondary or metastatic breast cancer.

What are the possible risk factors for breast cancer in men?

Breast cancer in men is relatively rare, but several risk factors can increase the chances of its development. The risk factors for male breast cancer include:

  • Age (>60)
  • Radiation Exposure
  • Liver Disease
  • Estrogen Exposure
  • Testicular Conditions
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Personal History
  • Gynecomastia
  • Family History (Inherited genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 also increase the risk)
  • Klinefelter Syndrome (an extra X chromosome)

What are the symptoms of male breast cancer?

To monitor for breast cancer, keep an eye out for the following signs and symptoms on a daily basis:

  • A painless lump or thickening in the breast tissue.
  • Changes in the size, color or shape of the breast.
  • Nipple discharge, sometimes bloody.
  • Inverted or retracted nipple.
  • Skin changes on the breast, such as dimpling or redness.
  • Pain in the nipple area
  • Painful lump in male breast

What types of breast cancer can affect men?

Several types of breast cancer can affect men and are generally similar to the types seen in women. Breast cancer in men is mostly associated with the overexpression of estrogen and progesterone receptors rather than the HER2 receptor. Some of the most common types of breast cancer in men include:

  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): 

This is the most common type of breast cancer in men. IDC originates in the milk ducts of the breast and then invades from the duct wall to the fatty tissue of the breast.

  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)

DCIS is a non-invasive cancer where abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct but have not spread into the surrounding tissues.

In men, DCIS accounts for approximately 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer and is typically highly treatable with surgery.

  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer: 

This is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that can affect men. It is characterized by redness, swelling and warmth in the breast, often resembling an infection. Inflammatory breast cancer tends to grow quickly and can be challenging to treat.

  • Paget’s Disease of the Nipple: 

It has a slightly higher percentage in males than females, approximately 5%. Paget’s disease often presents with symptoms like itching, redness, scaling, or discharge from the nipple and sometimes presents with an underlying lump in the breast. 

  • Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS): 

LCIS is a condition where abnormal cells are found in the lobules of the breast but have not spread to nearby tissues. It is not considered an invasive cancer.

Can male breast cancer be treated?

Treatment for male breast cancer, especially at an early stage, is similar to that for female breast cancer. It typically involves:

  • Surgery:

Removal of the tumor and in some cases, mastectomy (removal of the breast). It depends on the size of tumor.

  • Radiation Therapy:

High-level radiation is thrown on the cancerous cells to kill them.

  • Chemotherapy: 

Systemic medications are given to target and destroy cancer cells.

  • Hormone Therapy: 

If the tumor is hormone receptor-positive, drugs can be used to block or reduce hormone production.

  • Targeted Therapy: 

Medications that specifically target cancer cells with certain genetic mutations.


Breast cancer can occur in males, but the risk is much less common compared to women. While the exact cause of breast cancer in men remains unclear, there are several possible risk factors and lifestyle factors that can increase the likelihood of its development. Regular check-ups, self-examinations, and awareness of any changes in breast tissue are crucial steps for both men and women. 


Is breast cancer similar in males and females?

Breast cancer in males and females shares similar types, symptoms, and treatment approaches. However, males are far less likely to have it.

Is breast cancer in males curable?

Breast cancer in men is curable if diagnosed at an early localized stage, with a 95% survival rate. However, if the cancer has spread to nearby organs, the chances of survival can drop significantly to as low as 15%.

Can breast cancer in men occur at a young age?

Male breast cancer can develop at any age depending on the factors such as family history, tumor history or genetic mutations, but it is more common in individuals aged 60 or older.

How to avoid breast cancer in men?

To lower the risk of male breast cancer, maintain a healthy lifestyle, limit alcohol and consider genetic counseling if there’s a family history or genetic mutations.

Samreen is a pharmacist and content strategist, excelling in the formulation of both medical and general content. Harnessing her profound expertise, she adeptly positions brand narratives. She consistently delivers content that not only captivates but also achieves tangible outcomes, solidifying her stature in the realm of digital marketing.

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