While being diagnosed with breast cancer is rare in men, it still happens. Any cell in the body can become cancerous. So even if men only have a small volume of breast tissue, it’s still possible for breast cancer cells to develop there. A man’s risk of developing breast cancer is one per 1,000 – and because it’s that uncommon among men, the disease is often not diagnosed until it’s already in the later stage, making it more difficult to treat. But with proper knowledge and going through breast cancer screening tests, men can now protect themselves from the life-threatening disease.
Which Men Will Likely be diagnosed with Breast Cancer?
Being diagnosed with the disease is rare for men who are under 35. Similar with women, a man’s chance of developing breast cancer also goes up with age. Breast cancer usually happens to men between ages 60 to 70. Other than age, the other factors that affect a man’s risk of developing the disease include:
• Breast cancer history among female relatives
• Radiation exposure on the chest area
• Breast enlargement (gynecomastia) from treatments using hormones or infections
• Taking oestrogen
• Severe liver disease (cirrhosis)
• Testicle diseases (mumpsorchitis), injury, or undescended testicles
How Serious is Male Breast Cancer?
Singapore specialists used to think that male breast cancer was more severe than breast cancer in women, but several studies revealed that the cancer’s severity in both genders is just the same.
The only problem is that male breast cancer tend to be diagnosed later in life than female breast cancer. This may be because men are less likely to be guarded about any changes in their chest area and also less likely to screen for breast cancer in Singapore. Also, their little amount of breast tissue makes it harder to detect early signs of breast cancer, giving tumours the freedom to spread to the other tissues surrounding it.
What are the Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer symptoms in men are similar to women’s. Most males are diagnosed with breast cancer when a man feels a strange lump on his chest. But unlike women, men often delay their hospital visits until more severe symptoms like nipple bleeding occurs – and at that point, the cancer cells may have already spread in other parts body organs. Other symptoms of breast cancer among men are tender or inverted nipples, and swelling or ulceration of the chest area.
The sooner these symptoms are diagnosed, the better the outcome of the treatment will be. So if you ever feel or notice any of the said symptoms, do have it checked as soon as possible.
Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Men
The same breast cancer screening tests and techniques used in women are also used in men: biopsies, mammography, and physical examinations.
Likewise, the same treatments used in treating breast cancer in women are also used in men. A lot of men can benefit from a combination of any of the following treatments.
• Surgery. The typical treatment for breast cancer in men is a mastectomy, a procedure wherein the entire breast is removed. Breast conserving surgery – just the tumour is taken out – isn’t usually possible, since men don’t have enough breast tissues needed for the procedure. Oftentimes, Singapore surgeons also takes out one or more lymph nodes to see whether or not the cancer has spread on other parts of the body.
• Radiation Therapy. After undergoing a surgical procedure to remove cancerous lumps on the chest area, you can also have a radiation therapy to kill off cancer cells that were missed during the surgery. If the cancer is deemed inoperable, then radiation therapy might serve as your main treatment.
• Chemotherapy. In this kind of treatment, you’ll be given drugs – either through injection or by mouth – to attack and kill the cancer cells. You may undergo chemotherapy after surgery to lower the risk of breast cancer recurrence. For men with an advanced type of cancer or cancer that has spread throughout the body, chemotherapy is used as their primary treatment.
• Hormone Therapy. Certain types of breast cancer need particular hormones to grow – and hormone therapy works by blocking the effects of these hormones, thereby stopping the growth of cancer cells. This procedure is often more successful in men than in women, since about 90 percent of men are diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive cancer. Tamoxifen is the standard drug used in hormone therapy to treat male breast cancer. Oftentimes, removal of testes reduces the amount of certain male hormones. Men diagnosed with breast cancer are even advised to never take testosterone as it’ll only encourage cancer cell growth.
You can undergo hormone therapy after surgery to lower the chances of breast cancer coming back. Hormone therapy is usually considered as a primary treatment for men diagnosed with metastatic or locally advanced cancer.
• Targeted Therapy. Some men have excess protein (HER2) in their body that makes cancer spread quickly. Herceptin is a drug recommended by health experts to treat breast cancer cells that has spread to other parts of the body. The drug simply stops the said protein from making the cancer cells grow, while boosting the immune system to give you more strength to fight the disease.
Although it’s a rare case among men, being knowledgeable about breast cancer is still important. Like anyone who’s been diagnosed or treated from the disease, make sure that you go through all the necessary breast cancer screening Singapore tests to keep yourself protected. Living a healthy lifestyle and getting regular medical care will surely save you from this deadly disease.