Can Men Have
Did you realize that men might be at risk of developing
breast cancer? The risk factor is much smaller in men,
but they do have breast tissue and they are at risk of
developing this disease.
Before puberty, young women and boys have small amounts of
breast tissue with just a few ducts. When they reach
puberty, a young woman’s ovaries start producing hormones that
cause the breast ducts to grow and develop lobules (milk
glands) to form on the ends. A young boy’s Testosterone
level raises and prevents any further growth of breast
The cells of a man’s breast can undergo changes and become
Since they have less breast tissue the risk factor is
reduced. Women’s breasts are constantly being fed by
female hormones and make the risk of breast cancer higher for
Men who have a history of breast cancer in the female side
of the family should be aware they are at risk for developing
the disease too.
Other breast disorders such as benign tumors are more common
in women but can develop in men’s breasts. Benign tumors
do not spread outside the breast. They are also not life
threatening. Malignant tumors can be life threatening and
may occur in both men and women.
Detecting breast cancer in men is
important because it can quickly be carried to the lymph nodes
by lymphatic vessels.
Cancer cells entering the lymph nodes are transferred to
other organs of the body and the cancer is harder to fight and
more deadly. Breast cancer in men will normally start
around the nipple area.
Benign breast disorders are also common in men.
Gynecomastia is one of the most common found in men. An
increase in breast tissue occurs and a small disk or button
like growth is found under the nipple. Normally this
isn’t seen but can be felt with the fingertips.
This normally happens in young boys who are experiencing
hormonal changes but occur in older men when their hormones
become unbalanced. Tumors or diseases of the endocrine
gland can cause this condition, but this is rare. Liver
disease and obesity can cause hormone imbalance and can lead to
Men may develop adenocarcinoma, which is a breast cancer
that starts in the ducts or lobules of the breast. There
are two main types of carcinomas, one is ductal, and the other
is lobular carcinoma. Lobular carcinoma is rare in men
because they do not usually have lobular tissue.
Ductal carcinoma in situ is a cancer that fills the ducts
but don’t go through the walls to other tissues in the breast
or spread outside the breast. It is usually
curable. Infiltrating ductal carcinoma starts in the
breast ducts and metastasizes or spread to other parts of the
body. This cancer accounts for most of breast cancers in
Men should be aware of any changes in their breasts,
including crusting, scaling, and itching around the nipple
area. A lump may also be detected by self-exam.
Men, if you have breast cancer in female family members, check
for any changes in your own breasts.