Male Breast Cancer Cases More Severe

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For most, breast cancer is seen as a female disease. Throughout National Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October, there are any number of runs, charity events, and rallies related to breast cancer awareness and early screenings for women. However, this disease can also affect men, who are not regularly screened for breast cancer. During the month of October, Dr. Lindsay Keith has made it her goal to bring additional awareness to the risk of male breast cancer and what symptoms to look for.

“It used to be common thought that breast cancer, when diagnosed in men, was more severe than such cases in women,” says Dr. Keit, a surgical breast oncologist. “We know now that the survival rate for breast cancer is the same in men and women, and is based on stage at diagnosis. The problem is that there is no routine screening for men, such as the yearly mammogram that women undergo. There is just no need for doctors to routinely test for what is a rare disease in men. Because of this, male breast cancer is often not discovered until symptoms such as a mass in the breast appear in later stages.” 

Breast cancer in men tends to appear later in life than in women, has earlier nipple involvement, and has a higher stage and grade upon diagnosis. Men are most often diagnosed with the most common form of breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma, which expresses estrogen receptors more often than in women. While it may be easier to diagnose breast cancer in men than in women because lumps are more apparent due to less breast tissue, men often delay seeking medical attention. Because most men wait until their symptoms are several to visit a doctor, those diagnosed with breast cancer are often diagnosed with later stages of the disease.

It is important for both men and women to perform regular breast exams in order to catch possible symptoms at an early stage. Male breast cancer symptoms include a lump in the breast tissue, bleeding from the nipple, skin dimpling, and inversion of the nipple. Men should also be aware of their family history when it comes to breast cancer, as 15-20% of male breast cancers are associated with a positive family history. Low testosterone and morbid obesity can also be underlying factors for breast cancer.

Of the 41,000 people who die of breast cancer each year, 460 of these cases are men.



Dr. Lindsay Keith is a surgical oncologist in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Learn more about her on her website, https://lindsaykeith.com


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