How do men get breast cancer?

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April Taylor

While women are proactively taught about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, many people do not realize that men are also at risk for developing the disease. According to the American Cancer Society, thousands of cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in men every year. Risk factors for men include being 68 or older, family history, inheriting the BRCA gene, Klinefelter syndrome, estrogen related drugs, liver disease, radiation exposure and obesity. Although these risk factors have been established, experts are still unsure about the cause of most breast cancers in men.

Just as it is with women, early detection of breast cancer in me is key to it being successfully treated. Men who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer due to family history or the BRCA gene are strongly encouraged to self exams of their breasts. Men should also see a doctor if they develop any of the following symptoms: a lump or swelling in the breast tissue, skin dimpling or puckering, redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin, or nipple discharge.

Most of what doctors know about treating male breast cancer is based on the treatment of breast cancer in women because male breast cancer is so rare that few clinical studies have been conducted on the treatment of male breast cancer. Treatment can include, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.

One of the recent developments in understanding breast cancer in men is uncovering a link between men who carry the BRCA gene and being at risk for other forms of cancer including cancer of the prostate, stomach, or pancreas, and melanoma. This link continues to be actively researched in an effort to understand the risks associated with male breast cancer.

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