Male breast cancer

Cases of male breast cancer are on the increase. The results of a studyconducted in this regard revealed that the average time between the first symptoms and diagnosis was more than a year and a half. That's a very long time! This is probably because people don't expect that men can get breast cancer, so there is little to no early detection.

It's important to understand the risk factors for male breast cancer — particularly because men are not routinely screened for the disease and don't think about the possibility that they'll get it. As a result, breast cancer tends to be more advanced in men than in women when it is first diagnosed.

A number of factors can increase the risk of a man to get breast cancer:

  • Growing older: As in the case of women, risk increases with age.
  • High estrogen levels: Breast cell growth — both normal and abnormal — is stimulated by the presence of estrogen. Men can have high estrogen levels as a result of: o Taking hormonal medicines o Being overweight. o Having been exposed to estrogens in the environment. o Being heavy users of alcohol, which can limit the liver's ability to regulate blood estrogen levels.
  • Klinefelter syndrome: Men with Klinefelter syndrome have lower levels of androgens (male hormones) and higher levels of estrogen (female hormones).
  • A strong family history of breast cancer or genetic alterations: Family history can increase the risk of breast cancer in men — particularly if other men in the family have had breast cancer.
  • Radiation exposure: Having radiation therapy to the chest before age 30, and particularly during adolescence, may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

If you notice any persistent changes to your breasts, you should contact your doctor. It is advisable to to be aware of the following signs or symptoms:

  • A lump felt in the breast
  • Nipple pain and and/or nipple discharge
  • An inverted nipple.
  • Sores on the nipple and areola.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm.

Breast cancer amongst men is still a rare diseasebut early diagnosis could make a life-saving difference.

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