Breast Cancer in Men

Menstuff® is actively compiling information, books and resources on the issue of breast cancer in men. Since very little research has been done on men versus women, we report some information regarding women as it "might" apply to men as well.

Breast Cancer Kills Men Too


An International Comparison of Male and Female Breast Cancer Incidence Rates
Man Titties
What are the signs and symptoms for men?
A Man Dies Every Day
Screen Together - Live Together
Do Men Get Breast Cancer?
Do Men Know The Symptoms Of Male Breast Cancer?
Male Breast Cancer
Gasoline exposure increases risk of male breast cancer
Self Exam
Breast Cancer Self-Exam Reminder
Breast Implants
Victoria's Secret
Breast Cancer in Daughters and Wives
Detect Breast Cancer without Operation
Useful Contacts
Detailed Guide: Breast Cancer in Men from the Am Cancer Society

Gynecomastic Before & After

"Superman" by Jimmy Charle

A Man Dies Every Day

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016 some 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among men and about 440 men will die from breast cancer in the United States. Breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than among women and accounts for less than half of 1% of cancer deaths among men. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1/10th of 1% (1 in 1,000). The number of breast cancer cases in men relative to the population has been fairly stable over the last 30 years.

The prognosis (outlook) for men with breast cancer was once thought to be worse than that for women, but recent studies have not found this to be true. Based on looking at each stage, the survival rates are about equal. In other words, men and women with the same stage of breast cancer have a similar outlook for survival.

Breast Cancer Kills Men Too

I was at a fast food establishment last week when two young women, in their late teens, ordered coffee and a "bucket of fries". That was their complete order. With new information reporting the increasing status of Overweight America, you might check out this site before you get The Biggie Meal or Super Size that fast food order because more men are dying each year from Breast Cancer and our overweight status is directly connected to Breast Cancer in men.

We're entering the second decade of public and professional education and awareness regarding breast cancer. There are 17 major national nonprofit cancer organizations working to ensure that the media and communities everywhere focus a spotlight on the problem of breast cancer (in women.) So why are we talking about this subject in a men's site? Because, while it is a relatively small number Breast Cancer Kills Men, Too. (2007 - 1,990 new cases of breast cancer in men and 450 deaths.) So, if all of this awareness is out there why haven't I found a man yet that wasn't amazed to know that men can even get breast cancer? And, here's the BIG ONE. Relative delay in diagnosis of men versus women: 18 months. So, chances are, our cases are more advanced resulting in higher mortality rates.

I once went through the many men's health books looking for information on breast cancer. Most of the indexes go from "breakfast" to "breath, bad". The Man's Health Book by Michael Oppenheim is the ONLY one that even acknowledged the possibility, and it was published way back in 1994. Here's what they say: "Male breast cancer is about one fourth as common as penile cancer. The mortality rate is greater in men because they lack the frightening awareness that's almost universal among women. A soft lump behind the nipple is probably gynecomastia; a hard lump points to cancer. Either is worth a trip to the doctor." That's it for breast cancer in men. They do have several pages concerning Gynescomastia (abnormal breast swelling) for men. What we do know is that, generally, breast cancer is usually more common in men over 60 with higher than normal levels of estrogen. Personal and family history of breast cancer is a factor. Signs are a lump, thickening, swelling, discharge or other changes in the breast.

Esquire article. Bradenton Herald article.

Male breast cancer awareness: Why Beyonce's father, Mathew Knowles, urges men to get tested

Mathew Knowles, father to Beyoncé and Solange, revealed on "Good Morning America" that he's been battling breast cancer. USA TODAY

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins, few people think about the men affected.

Beyoncé’s father, Mathew Knowles, revealed on "Good Morning America" Wednesday that he is battling breast cancer and urged other men to get tested for the disease.

The American Cancer Society estimates about 2,670 new cases of invasive male breast cancer will be diagnosed in the USA in 2019, and about 500 men will die from the disease.

Mary Smania, assistant professor at Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, said breast cancer in men is extremely rare – less than 1% – but carries dangerous consequences.

Should you get a 3D mammogram?: What you should know about how the screening detects breast cancer

What are the symptoms of breast cancer in men?

The American Cancer Society lists signs and symptoms of male breast cancer:

It's important to see a health care professional with any concerns. Breast cancer is usually more common in men over 60 with higher than normal levels of estrogen.

Sometimes breast cancer can spread and cause swelling under the arm or around the collar bone, even before the original tumor in the breast isn't big enough to be felt, according to the organization.

"It's a little bit easier to detect," Smania said. "Typically because they don't have the amount of breast tissue that women have."

Routine breast screenings don't exist for men like they do for women, Smania said, so it's important to see a health care professional with any concerns.

Lyndsay Rhodes, associate professor of biological sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University, said knowing the symptoms is a great first step to early detection.

"Being aware of symptoms can save lives," Rhodes said. "Early detection is key."

How do men get breast cancer?

The ACS noted that cells in nearly any part of the body can be susceptible to cancer and can spread to other areas of the body.

The organization's website says cancer can start at different parts of the breast, such in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple or the glands that make breast milk. Although men's breasts don't produce milk like women's, their bodies have these ducts and glands.

Smania said the most common form of breast cancer in men is the invasive ductal carcinoma, which the ACS said starts in the milk duct, breaks through the wall of the duct, then grows into the fatty tissue of the breast where it has the potential to spread.

Why is it important to get tested?

When a man is diagnosed with breast cancer, Smania said, doctors usually do genetic testing as well to determine if he carries BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, also known by the National Breast Cancer Foundation as the "Breast Cancer Gene."

These mutations are genetic and can be passed down to children, which would significantly increase the chances of a daughter having breast cancer, Smania said.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation said 55%-65% of women with the BRCA1 mutation and about 45% with the BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by the age of 70.

"Education in this matter is critical," Rhodes said. "Men are statistically less likely to have a primary care physician, go to yearly exams or conduct self breast exams."

'I’m lucky to be alive': '90210' star Shannen Doherty gets candid on breast cancer battle

Male Breast Cancer

When Richard Roundtree, the star of the original 'Shaft' movie, felt a lump in his chest, he had it checked immediately and found it was cancerous. Now he's taken on a new role: publicly promoting early breast cancer detection for males.

"If ‘Shaft’ can survive this, and the reason (is) early detection, I have to say something about it."

--Richard Roundtree, Actor

One in every 100 breast cancer cases is a man. It's unusual, unnoticed, and ignored, and too often results in a cancer that becomes deadly.

Which men are most at risk?

All men are potentially at risk, and should begin doing breast self-exams, checking for unusual lumps beneath the nipple. If a malignant lump is found, local breast removal may be recommended.

You can ask Richard Roundtree vie email about his breast cancer battle. Also, check our Healthcentral News sections for more information about environmental and hereditary risks, symptoms, and male breast cancer research. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is also a very good source of information. Call 1-800-462-9273

How can we protect our sons from breast cancer?

Sons of men and women who have who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or who have BRCA2 or BRCA1 mutations are at higher risk for breast cancer than the general population. While there are some male breast cancer risk factors, such as an undescended testicle, Klinefelter syndrome, CHEK2 mutation, and Cowden syndrome, over which parents have little or no control, there are other sources of risk that they can minimize. These generally fall under diet and lifestyle factors, although minimizing exposure to certain pollutants and ionizing radiation are also important. Given the similarities between male and female breast cancer, it may be that steps shown to prevent beast cancer in girls may also be useful in preventing it in boys. However, we will only be discussing factors that have been shown specifically to affect male breast cancer risk in this web page.


Parents should avoid using baby care products containing lavender or tea tree oil, which have been shown to produce estrogenic effects in boys, and parabens, which are suspected to interfere with male reproductive functions. Also to be avoided are clear plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and toys containing polycarbonates, which have been shown to be carcinogenic. Plastic products containing polycarbonates may be marked on the base with a triangle containing the number 7.

Soy infant formula contains phytoestrogens, which have been shown to delay puberty in male rats. While the few studies that have compared the health of milk formula-fed children with soy formula fed children have not found any adverse effects for soy, based on the available evidence, boys fed soy formula could suffer from subtle demasculinization effects.

Boys should be vaccinated against mumps to prevent possible damage to the testicles associated with mumps.

Childhood personal care products

Some personal care products have been found to cause signs feminization, including breasts, in boys. These include shampoo and other hair products, body creams, body oils, and other personal care products with labels indicating that they contain lavender, tea tree oil, placenta or placental extract, or hormones. Personal products containing parabens are also suspected of contributing to breast cancer incidence. These products are intended for external use, but are absorbed through the skin or scalp. In addition, there are a number of hair care and other products marketed to African-American women that contain placenta or "hormone" that should not be used to groom boys.

Childhood weight and exercise

Being overweight has been found to be associated with increased risk of breast cancer in adult men whereas physical activity is inversely related, even after adjustment for body mass index. It is not clear at what point in life overweight becomes a significant risk factor for subsequent breast cancer in men. However, since adult obesity often follows childhood obesity, it makes sense to take steps not to overfeed boys and to encourage daily physical activity. Since testicular injury is suspected of contributing to some cases of breast cancer, boys should wear athletic supporters and cups, as appropriate, for any sports in which they engage.

Childhood radiation

Whether used to treat or to diagnose illness, radiation to the chest or back (including x-rays, CT scans, and radiation treatment) during childhood can result in breast cancer in adulthood. While such radiation normally is administered for medically necessary reasons, parents of boys at high risk for later breast cancer should pay attention to the degree of exposure and try to limit it, where possible. Parents should also make sure that the chest is fully protected when radiation is administered to the head or neck or other areas close to the chest or back.

Childhood diet

Although there is ample evidence that diet can influence risk of breast cancer in women, the evidence is thin and contradictory for men. Consumption of red meat has been associated with increased male breast cancer risk in several studies, and consumption of fruits and vegetables with a decreased risk. Factors that affect breast cancer risk in men may begin to contribute to risk starting in childhood. Men diagnosed with estrogen positive disease might consider reviewing our article on what to eat for hormone receptor positive breast cancer in women to examine the possibility that the family diet might increase risk of breast cancer in their sons.

Exposure to environmental carcinogens

Some plastics contain estrogenic and otherwise carcinogenic chemicals that can leach into food when the plastics are heated, microwaved, put under pressure or simply scuffed and worn. These chemicals include bisphenol A, styrene, and phthalates. Plastics that may leach these substances include (1) polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which may be found in cling wrap, some plastic squeeze bottles, and cooking oil bottles; (2) polystyrene, which may be found in styrofoam food containers and disposable cups and bowls; and (3) polycarbonates, which may be found in plastic baby bottles, water bottles, and clear plastic sippy cups. Children and adults alike should avoid all but temporary, low temperature uses of these products. Plastic containers may be marked with a number in a triangle-like icon. Plastics marked 1, 2, 4 or 5 use less toxic additives in their manufacture. Products that use polyvinyl chloride should be marked with 3, polystyrene with a 6, and polycarbonate with a 7 - these are the ones to avoid.

Boys who are raised on or near farms, raised by farm workers, or who are themselves farm workers may be vulnerable to the breast cancer-promoting effects of certain pesticides, hormones and other chemicals used in the production of food and other products. Boys should be kept out of harm's way when such chemicals are applied and should not be required to pick or process crops to which pesticides have been applied. Parents of boys raised on or near farms should educate themselves on the risks of the specific chemicals used there and take appropriate precautions.

Summer jobs

Men who have worked in blast furnaces, steel works, rolling mills have been observed to have a highly likelihood of breast cancer, suggesting that heat may damage testicles in a way that promotes breast cancer (presumably by altering the androgen/estrogen ratio in the body). Workers in machinery repair and manufacturing of motor vehicles also have higher risk, indicating that exposure to environmental carcinogens such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, nitrosamines, and metal fumes in some manufacturing environments are possible contributing factors. This suggests that high-risk teenagers should avoid summer jobs involving exposure to high heat or manufacturing environments likely to result in exposure to carcinogens. These factors should also be taken into account in selecting future careers.

Body building and weight loss products

Care should be taken in selecting any body building or weight loss products. For example, some protein powders consist primarily of soy protein, which is estrogenic as a result of its phytoestrogen content. Supplemental human growth hormone might also contribute to breast cancer risk. This is because tall height is associated with increased risk of male breast cancer, suggesting that high circulating levels of hormones that contribute to tall stature may promote breast cancer.


While the evidence regarding alcohol consumption is not consistent for male breast cancer (it is a strong contributor to female breast cancer risk), it appears to be a risk factor. Boys and teenagers should not have ready access to alcohol.

Sex change

The treatments required to induce male-to-female sex change, including castration and large doses of female hormones, lower androgen levels and increase the estrogen-to-androgen ratio, thereby increasing the risk for breast cancer. Those undergoing sex change should be made aware of the increased risk of breast cancer and be screened for it periodically.

Breast self-exams

Since men are typically not screened with mammograms, they usually find their breast cancers themselves. Higher risk teenagers should be taught to perform breast self-exams. Adding this instruction to a lesson on testicle self exam might make it more palatable.

Additional comments

Fathers and mothers who themselves have an elevated risk of breast cancer might benefit from eating a wide variety of the foods on our recommended food list and limit or avoid those on our avoid list, in addition to paying attention to them when feeding their children.

Gasoline exposure increases risk of male breast cancer

Breast cancer strikes men at a rate one-hundredth that of women, but a report suggests that men who work around gasoline and combustion products have a significantly higher risk of developing the disease.

"If gasoline and combustion products cause breast cancer in men, it probably does so in women too," according to Dr. Johnni Hansen of the Danish Cancer Society, Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Hansen looked at the lifetime employment records of 230 Danish men born between 1897 and 1966 who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The researcher matched each case with 56 men born the same year who did not have the disease. Men who had blue-collar jobs for at least 3 months in service stations, vehicle maintenance, wholesale gasoline sales, or car repair shops were considered to have been exposed to gasoline vapors.

Men who had been exposed to gasoline and combustion products for at least 3 months were more than twice as likely to develop breast cancer as those who had not been exposed, Hansen reports. In addition, men who began working in these trades before age 40 were almost four times as likely to develop the disease.

Writing in the current issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Hansen notes that although breast cancer is rare in men, the disease in men seems to be linked to many of the same factors as in women. These factors include family history of disease, a prior non-malignant breast disorder, and exposure to ionizing radiation. Previous studies have linked exposure to benzene and certain hydrocarbons, both products of gasoline and diesel fuels combustion, with breast cancer in women and in animals.

"Since (these hydrocarbons) and remnants of uncombusted gasoline are exhausted from automobiles to the general environment, the breast cancer risk particularly of women may be of public concern," Hansen explains.

The author calls for further study of the risk of breast cancer among men and women exposed to gasoline and combustion products.

Do Men Get Breast Cancer?

David: My mom and two of her sisters have each had double mastectomies. My mom's first cancer was at age 35, which is my age now.

I don't have any lumps, but should I be examined for breast cancer?

Dr. Dean: The answer to your question is yes. Men are only about two percent of all breast cancer cases, but breast cancer in men is often fatal because the symptoms are ignored.

You would be wise to do a self-exam when you take a shower. Your chest, being flat, will be easier to examine than a woman's chest is. Soaping your breasts makes them slippery and helps you feel the details of the tissue better. This is true for women, too, of course.

If you find a lump, you should get a mammogram. Believe it or not, they can pinch enough tissue in a male's chest for a mammogram. I don't think there is a recommendation for routine mammograms for men, but because so few protocols exist, I suggest you do your own extensive literature search.

Even with your family history, not enough is known about male breast cancer for me to tell you how high your risk is. I do think your risk for prostate cancer might be elevated, so you should be vigilant about getting your examinations.

Do Men Know The Symptoms Of Male Breast Cancer?

Joe in Columbus: I am a man who was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year ago.

My first symptom was that my left nipple was inverted - it was pulling in. That began to increase and then it became very painful. One night, it hurt so badly that it woke me up. That's when I went to my local doctor who sent me on to a surgeon.

The surgeon said he didn't think I had breast cancer, but he tested me anyway and found out that I did. Eventually I went to a breast specialist to have the tumor removed.

Since this experience, I have run into four or five more cases in Columbus alone. I don't hear the media talk about male breast cancer though, so I'm calling to raise awareness.

Dr. Dean: The pulling in that you are describing can be a symptom of breast cancer in either a man or a woman. This pulling is called "peau d'orange" - skin of the orange - and it should be taken seriously, as should a lump, in either gender.

Nonetheless, I would expect that many general practitioners would brush you off, send you on your way with some antibiotics. Instead, your doctor had a topnotch response that may have saved your life.

Breast pain is more likely to be something other than breast cancer, but as your case illustrates, that's not always true.

Since we can't count on the media for accuracy and balanced reporting, I appreciate guys like you calling in to keep us informed.

Screen Together - Live Together

The pink and blue ribbon in the upper left hand corner is the new symbol originating from the Healing Choices, Bridging Communities 2000 conference at the University of California at San Francisco November 18, 2000. It was the first breast and prostate cancer forum integrating Western Medicine with the Healing Traditions from many cultures. It encourages women and men to screen together, women for breast cancer, men for prostate cancer. This comes from the knowledge that many of those who die of these cancer's are married or have spouses and that, since men are less likely to get screened, when their cancer is detected, it is usually at a more advanced stage. Every women is at risk for breast cancer and every man is at risk for prostate cancer. The best way to protect yourself against it is to find it early. Schedule an annual exam the same time your wife schedules her mammogram. And enjoy many move years living together. Top of Page


Breast self-examination is one of the most important tools you have for early detection of breast cancer. Early detection and treatment of any cancer is the key to saving lives. The more promptly treatment is begun, the greater the chance that it will be successful because the cancer is in a localized stage. Self-examinations and regular screenings by a doctor are vital for detecting cancer in the earliest possible stage. Consider doing a monthly self-exam.

This guide is not intended as a replacement for professional care. For complete diagnosis and treatment, see your health care professional. Also, signup for the free monthly Breast Cancer Self-Exam Reminder


Become a Breast Ambassador

The calendar features stunning 12x14 fine art, sepia-toned photographs of Canadian breasts in a variety of shapes and vintages, plus fascinating breast lore and health tips. And, while not male breast is included, there are fun reminders to do your monthly breast self examination. Are we can help remind you. By giving this calendar, you too can become a Breast Ambassador and join in a world wide Breast Celebration.

The Silent Story of Male Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time we typically associate with women, mothers, and pink ribbons. But what many of us don't realize is that men can also be victims of this deadly disease.

Harvey Singer, a breast cancer survivor and the creator of, joined hosts Jacob Soboroff and Janet Varney on HuffPost Live to discuss his experience as a man with breast cancer.

“The medical community was not set up to handle guys with this disease,” Singer shared. “That’s when things really started spinning for me. I started looking at alternatives and what I was going to do for surgery. You have to be your own personal advocate for this disease.”

Because the cause of his breast cancer was hormonally driven, Singer was given the same types of treatments women receive despite differences in the levels and types of hormones he was producing. “They don’t know how to segregate that from a male and a female, so they just treat you with the common things they would treat a woman with. That was the most disturbing part to me.”

Dr. Richard Clapp, founder and former director of MA Cancer Registry and Epidemiologist/Professor Emeritus at Boston University Dept of Environmental Health and Mike Partain, born at Camp Lejeune during what has become known as one of the worst contaminated drinking water tragedies in American history, discussed this topic with Soboroff, Varney, and Singer.

Breast Cancer Risk Increasing for Men

Breast cancer among men remains a tiny risk, but it's a growing one. Between 1973 and 1998, the number of U.S. cases climbed 26%, according to a study of more than 2,500 American men with the disease, published in the online version of Cancer, the American Cancer Society's journal. The percentage was much smaller than the increase for women, which was 52%. Obesity may be the culprit in both sexes, say researchers, noting that breast cancer has risen for men without the most common reasons for the rise of female breast cancer, such as the use of postmenopausal hormones such as estrogen. Fat tissue produces estrogen, increased levels of which can lead to breast cancer, says Michael Thun, epidemiology chief at the Atlanta-based cancer society.
Source: USA Today

Men Usually Slow to Detect Breast Cancer

Men who have breast cancer usually discover the disease later than women, when the tumors are larger and the cancer has spread, according to findings from the largest-ever study of male breast cancer.

Even so, survival rates are not significantly different between men and women, say researchers from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas who presented the study Monday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.

Men account for about 1 percent of breast cancers reported in the United States -- or 1,600 new cases last year, the researchers say. They analyzed National Cancer Institute data on breast cancer cases for men and women from 1973 through 1998. Men with cancer were found to be older, more likely to have later-stage cancers that had spread to the lymph nodes, and more likely to have ductal and papillary cancers, the study says.

The age difference probably stems from men's lack of awareness that they, too, can have breast cancer, the researchers say.
Source: Robert Preidt,

Men With Breast Cancer Go Public

Just as a group of female breast cancer advocates banded together to help publicize breast cancer among women 20 years ago, a disparate group of male survivors are simultaneously working together to put "a touch of blue" in the pink ribbon given to those who have beaten the disease.

Predictive Testing For Hereditary Breast And Ovarian Cancer: Its Effect On Women

One in ten women opted to have prophylactic mastectomy and nearly half opted to have their ovaries removed in the year following genetic tests which showed they were at risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC), a Belgian clinical psychologist reported at the 3rd European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona today.
Source: Federation of European Cancer Societies,

Men Are Affected, Too, And Have a Role to Play

Although October -- designated as Breast Cancer Awareness month -- is over, think back about the messages you received recently about the disease. There are women telling other women to perform breast self-examinations; there are interviews about women survivors; and there is information about women banding together to help other women cope. The few times I have seen a man enter the breast cancer scene is when a corporate or sports figure addresses efforts at raising money for overall awareness for breast cancer programs.

While the women in our lives may succumb to cancer's physical manifestations, men are deeply affected by its emotional and psychological challenges. The feelings I experienced when my wife, Barbara, was diagnosed with the disease in February -- helplessness, fear, anger, and uncertainty -- are similar to what other men and women have felt. Yet women, with their more extensive communication networks, have a venue for developing a support system. Men are often just set adrift. And even though, according to the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, it is estimated that 1,500 men will be diagnosed and 400 men will die of breast cancer this year, it is still considered a women's disease.

Let's face it, since men really are from Mars, we are very ill-equipped to handle the emotional and spiritual workload that quickly gets dumped on us. We can certainly "do stuff," but sometimes men just can't "read" what a woman wants and needs. Women want to gather information and talk about it over and over again. Men figure that they've talked about it already: "We're done, right?" This can easily translate into "I don't care" or worse.

After weeks of discussing the possibility of breast cancer and its recent confirmation, for example, my wife and I were off to a Saturday evening wine and cheese party with friends. Her mission was to talk with two members of the group who were involved in medicine. My intent was a temporary break from the ongoing discussions. It was the only time during our cancer crisis that we had a major argument.

Barbara and I really did work together to conquer the disease, however. We researched together, discussed the possible findings and outcomes together and made many visits to doctors' offices together. And since her successful surgery, we have worked hard to get our lives back to a sense of normalcy together. I have met many men who also collaborated with their partner or significant other in fighting cancer. According to cancer survivor Kay Alport, president of Bosom Buddies, a Chicago-based breast cancer support organization, "part of this is recognizing that 'normal' is now different than it was before."

Yet within the scope of togetherness, I (and other men I have spoken with) experienced some very real male emotions and feelings. At the time of initial diagnosis and surgery, these are not necessarily the types of things one can share with a partner who is fighting for her life. In fact, losing one's wife jumps immediately to the top of the list of male fears. But not far behind are feelings of inadequacy (how can I fix it; what do I need to do to get control of the situation; when will things get back to normal?) and anger (why her?).

Until I watched the home video "Partners in Hope," produced by Bosom Buddies earlier this year, I had not seen any male-female teams talking about how they survived the disease together. This video changed that. Created as a byproduct of an earlier female-oriented video, it focused on men.

I wouldn't have known about this video without having discovered Men Against Breast Cancer. MABC is the first national nonprofit designed to target and mobilize men to be active participants in the fight to eradicate breast cancer and to help men provide support for the women in their lives. Marc Heyison and Steve Peck founded the organization.

And we wouldn't have discovered MABC without a visit to Carolyn Hendricks, a Bethesda-based oncologist, a few weeks before my wife's surgery. She had a Men Against Breast Cancer sign posted in her office. She saw the helplessness of men who accompanied their wives to her office.

I saw the same at a breast-cancer awareness session for men at Inova Fairfax Hospital in late October. Men Against Breast Cancer were cosponsors of that day's program. But only a few of the 20 men shared their thoughts and concerns; most sat in silence.

While women can talk and research well, men "need a road map." Matt Loscalzo, director of patient and family services at Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, notes that such a document doesn't exist, and that eachsituation is different.

But, with enough generalizations, such a road map is possible. Peck and Loscalzo are working to create one, and in fact MABC hopes to provide a wallet-size card describing the "10 things men need to do" in such circumstances. While many of these relate directly to the breast cancer situation, many can actually help men be better partners throughout their lives.

So guys, here are a few ideas to get you started (the list is a work in progress). They are primarily focused on a husband-wife relationship.

• Take charge, take control, don't be helpless.

• Be sure you don't overpower her; communicate on her terms; learn how to communicate better (and that includes just listening).

• If she wants, handle making the appointments, finding out test results, etc.

• Make dinner, clean the house, take care of the kids.

• You married this woman "for better or for worse." This means that you need to show her your unconditional love at the start and end of each day. Squeeze as many hugs as you can into your waking hours. She needs to

know she is still a desirable woman.

• Stay on target and stay together throughout diagnosis, surgery and treatment, as needed.

• Laughter is the best medicine -- Barbara and I made lots of jokes about her situation. Our favorite was my telling her to "get her ducts in order." One woman even named her replacement breasts. Humor also lightens the mood of family and friends and makes them better able to provide support.

Another organization is the Virginia-based Men's Crusade Against Breast Cancer. Founded by Bernie Smith, the husband of a breast cancer victim, it has pushed for statewide recognition that breast cancer is a family disease. He has several legislative proclamations already to support this.

With such a growing number of people bent on making breast cancer more than a woman's disease, the future may well hold a time in which it is removed from the role it holds today. Perhaps the horrifying statistic that one in eight women will be diagnosed with it can be replaced by a much smaller ratio.

Until that day, the words of Paul Forbes, a man who has just entered the breast cancer world (his wife recently had surgery), holds incredible promise. Forbes shared this with me at the Inova session: "Not my wife alone, but we, a couple, will survive breast cancer."

Here are a few resources for men:

• Bosom Buddies 877-245-1300

• Men Against Breast Cancer

• Men's Crusade Against Breast Cancer: 703-978-3336.

Source: H. Michael Mogil Special to The Washington Post

Liver Damage from Alcohol Increases Chances of Breast Cancer

"Breast cancer in men is climbing rapidly in incidence. Most men who do not carry the cancer gene but are diagnosed with breast cancer have as their chief risk a high estrogen level resulting from alcohol damage to the liver. The large amounts of estrogen in their system are enough to cause the primitive breast structures in the male breast to grow." So says Dr. Bob Arnot in his book The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet: The powerful foods, supplements, and drugs that can save your life.

For women, night work may up breast cancer risk

Women who work at night, such as nurses or flight attendants, may be slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than women who work in the daytime, a Danish researcher reports.

Breast cancer death rate grows in older blacks

For reasons that researchers do not understand, the breast cancer death rate of elderly black women increased in the first half of the 1990s in the US, even though the death rate among white women declined during the same period.

FDA approves first-line option for advanced breast cancer

The government approved use of a drug called Femara to fight advanced breast cancer, suggesting it as an alternative to today's top treatment.

Perceived cancer risk influences mastectomy decision

For women who have a high genetic risk of breast cancer, choosing preventive surgery to remove both breasts helps ease high levels of anxiety without damaging their body image, according to British researchers.

Tamoxifen does not seem to help or hurt the heart

Tamoxifen, a drug used to help prevent and treat breast cancer, does not appear to have any effect--good or bad--on heart health, study findings suggest.

NFL Support Breast Cancer Research

On Tuesday, October 24, 2000 the NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness Day, the NFL will donate $5 for every person that logs onto and then clicks on "NFL For Her". They will donate up to $50,000 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. (Editor: We applaud this act by the NFL but sure wish they cared that much about the equal number of men who will die this year because there is no cure and very little funding of research regarding prostate cancer.) Learn More

Male Breast Cancer is Rare, But It Does Occur, By Rod Harmon, Bradenton (FL) Herald

(Excerpted to provide additional information on the subject.)

Alcoholics are also in the high-risk category, because they are more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver, resulting in higher estrogen levels. Radiation exposure to the chest, common to treat lymphoma, increases risk of breast cancer. In younger males and older men, breast cancer is typically associated with gynecomastia, a condition that results in overdeveloped breasts. It can be caused by high estrogen levels or certain medications and steroids.

Symptoms of male breast cancer are the same as in women: a lump in the breast (generally in the center behind the aureola in men) discharge from the nipple, retraction of the nipple, or an ulceration on the breast. Lumps are often painless, which is why a lot of men tend to ignore them. Nipple discharge is the most ominous sign in a man, as 75 percent of all cases involving this symptom turn out to be cancerous. Diagnosis and treatment are also similar to that used on women. A mammogram is performed, accompanied by an ultrasound, a physical exam and a biopsy. If cancer is detected, a mastectomy is usually performed -- unlike with women, attempts to preserve male breasts are rare. If the cancer has spread, radiation therapy and chemotherapy might be needed.

Until recently, some men with breast cancer were castrated to eliminate hormones that can support cancer growth. Now, physicians use the estrogen-blocking drug tamoxifen, no doubt to the relief of men everywhere. More or Self Exam

CMen and Breast Cancer

Esquire magazine devotes 7 pages with a nice write-up to make people aware of the fact that over 300 men will die of breast cancer this year. And, while twice as many will die of testicular cancer, and 133 times that number will die of prostate cancer, at least it's some recognition of a men's health issue. Some of the numbers are:  "Five-year survival rate for men with breast cancer with no metastasis: 90%. When spread to regional lymph nodes: 75%. With distant spread: 20%." And, here's the BIG ONE. "Relative delay in diagnosis of men versus women: 18 months." More or Self Exam

Daughters At Risk When Father Has Breast Cancer

Male breast cancer is relatively rare, but when it exists there is increased risk of the disease showing up in female offspring.

Three recent cases of breast cancer occurring in young daughters of Danish men with the disease was reported in The Lancet. Researchers say other data from the Swedish Family Cancer Database found 11 breast tumors in daughters of 463 men with breast cancer. There were no cases where sons of men with breast cancer got the disease.

The researchers say familial breast cancer in men closely resembles female breast cancer in magnitude of risk and early onset. This means the relative risk of daughters getting the disease goes down with age.

In studies of families where both the husband and wife have breast cancer, the relative risk is high for daughters to get the disease, the researchers add.

Ultrasound helps diagnose male breast tumors

Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration yields a definitive diagnosis in virtually all male breast tumors, according to a report presented at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

Breast pathology is rare in men compared with women, and male breast cancers account for only 1% of all breast malignancies, explained Dr. Cynthia Pham from M.D. Anderson Cancer in Houston, Texas.

Fine needle aspiration is a technique used to sample tissue from a lump. Using ultrasound guidance to assist the procedure appears to improve its success, according to the study.

Pham discussed her group's findings a study of 15 men with self-detected, palpable breast masses. One man had a family history of breast cancer, and another had a previous cancer in the opposite breast. Lesions found to be malignant were removed surgically, while benign lesions were followed up clinically.

Ultrasound criteria for diagnosing breast cancer were similar to those used in women, Pham said, including irregular margins and shadowing beneath the mass.

Seven of the men proved to have primary breast cancer, cancer arising in the breast, Pham reported. In four cases, unsuspected lymph node metastases were also detected by using the technique.

Men with a cancer diagnosis averaged 64 years of age, Pham said, whereas noncancer diagnoses were more common in younger men, average age 48 years.

In each case, the ultrasound appearance of the disease mimicked its female counterpart, Pham noted. She pointed out two principal limitations of the technique. First, an experienced cytopathologist--a specialist trained in examining potentially malignant cells--is critical to making an accurate diagnosis. Second, ultrasound guided needle aspiration cannot diagnose invasion, where the tumor is if the lymph nodes appear normal.

"Despite these limitations," Pham concluded, "ultrasound guided (fine needle aspiration) proved reliable for diagnosing and staging abnormalities in the male breast."

Little progress against male breast cancer

Survival rates for male patients with breast cancer have remained unchanged over the past 40 years, and may be significantly lower than those of female patients, according to researchers.

Changes in treatment strategies have "had no detected impact on the outcomes" of patients with this rare form of cancer, say investigators at The Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Less than one percent of breast carcinomas occur in men, and just one in 100,000 men will ever be affected by the disease. These low numbers mean that there are few accurate studies of breast cancer outcomes in male patients.

In their report, published in the February 1st issue of the journal Cancer, the Toronto team reviewed the medical records of 229 men with breast cancer treated at their hospital between 1955-1996.

The researchers report that although "previously undetected, smaller breast tumors are now being identified, no significant improvement has been made in terms of diagnosing" these cancers early in development. Nearly two-thirds of all male breast tumors are still detected by the patients themselves, the authors explain, and many of these diagnoses occur after the cancer has already spread to other body sites.

The focus of surgical management of male breast carcinoma has shifted from radical (full) to modified (partial) mastectomy over the study period, according to the authors. Rates for radical mastectomy declined from nearly half (47.2 percent) of all cases in 1955-1965 to no cases between 1986-1996. They stress, however, that "these changes in management had no detected impact on the outcomes of the patients in our series."

Overall five-year disease-free patient survival has remained relatively stable at 53 percent over the past four decades, they say - significantly below the 64 percent five-year survival rate for female patients reported by one major study. But lack of data make comparisons of breast cancer survival between the sexes "difficult," write the authors.

The Toronto team point out that male breast cancer patients are less likely to receive hormone therapy or chemotherapy than female patients. "These findings suggest that more aggressive treatment, which includes adjuvant chemotherapy, may be beneficial to men," they conclude.

Male Breast Cancer

Do men get breast cancer?

Yes. In 1999, it is estimated that 1,300 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 400 will die from it. In addition, 175,000 women will be diagnosed, and 43,300 will die.

What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer in men?

What are risk factors in men?

Is the survival rate better for men than for women?

No, survival of men and women is comparable by stage of disease at the time of diagnosis. However, men are usually diagnosed at a later stage, after the cancer has spread, because they are less likely to report any symptoms.

Is the treatment of breast cancer different for men?

No, treatment of breast cancer in men is the same as treatment for women patients and usually includes a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and/or hormone therapy.

What should I do if I have a problem? Report any changes in your chest/breast area to your medical professional.

For more information on breast health or breast cancer contact:

Klinefelter's syndrome: Males with this syndrome have an extra sex chromosome and do not produce enough testosterone.

Gynecomastia: This is an enlargement of the male breast and may be related to Klinefelter's syndrome, chronic diseases such as heart disease, or a variety of drugs used to treat chronic diseases.

Acupuncture eases nausea caused by cancer therapy

One of the oldest medical procedures in the world may ease the side effects of modern-day cancer therapy, new research suggests. In a study of breast cancer patients, investigators discovered that acupuncture helped control the nausea and vomiting caused by the very high doses of chemotherapy needed to destroy the immune system prior to a bone marrow transplant.

FDA advisers back drug for advanced breast cancer

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisers voted unanimously to approve the drug Femara (letrozole) as a first-line therapy for women with breast cancer that has spread.

Many doctors avoid using breast-conserving surgery

The choice of surgeon, not where a woman lives, may be the most important factor in determining if a woman with early-stage breast cancer is treated with lumpectomy or mastectomy, according to a study presented at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) here.

New method of early breast cancer detection

A new high-tech procedure can detect precancerous cells in the breast by taking samples of fluid from the milk ducts. Called ductal lavage, it could be an important tool to help high-risk women make decisions about preventive treatment.

New scope could look inside milk duct for breast cancers

Here is an exciting new possibility for breast cancer detection -- a tiny fiber-optic scope that can look inside milk ducts for tissue abnormalities. This could help make tissue removal by lumpectomy even more accurate.

Surprising finding about dietary fat and breast cancer

It's a big surprise that the recent Harvard study found that high-fat diets don't lead to an increase in the production of estrogen. This was the core of the belief that dietary fat was linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. A bigger surprise? That fat seems to reduce estrogen levels

Knocking down the color barriers in breast cancer detection

African-American women have a higher death rate from breast cancer -- many believe it is because they tend to get diagnosed and treated later. Some activists are working to improve access to screening and treatment, and the efforts are starting to pay off.

Looking for breast cancer in three dimensions

Three-dimensional ultrasound is an exciting new innovation in breast cancer detection. It allows a more accurate and complete view of the breast, which means tumors might be found earlier, and biopsies could be more accurate.

Breast cancer: Almost everything you need to know -- Part I

October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A review of the most accurate, up-to-date, and life affirming sites on the Internet.

Breast cancer: Almost everything you need to know --Part II

Our medical librarian, Rochelle Schmalz, explores sites about breast cancer and the environment, the controversial practice of breast removal to prevent cancer and where to get information on men's breast cancer.

How dangerous is breast cancer drug?

"I've have been taking tamoxifen for over three years for breast cancer. My neighbor says tamoxifen is a dangerous drug, and now I am concerned; can you give me information about this drug?"

Are there interactions between St. John's wort and tamoxifen?

"I work with breast cancer survivors. Many of the women are taking tamoxifen and will be doing so for at least five years. Many of them also have depression and get relief using St. John's wort. Could this be a problem?"!60

American Cancer Society Info on Male Breast Cancer

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Breast Cancer kills over 300 men each year. - American Cancer Society


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