Breast cancer is not limited to just women, men also suffer from this disease, although one in every one thousand men have been diagnosed positive for it. Both men and women are born with breast tissues, and the development of cancer cells in these tissues causes breast cancer. It is a rare occurrence for men under thirty-five years of age but it may develop over a long period of time and can only be clearly detected in men aged between sixty and seventy years. Due to the rarity of the disease, only very few and limited cases are available to study this in detail, although the breast cancer treatment in both men and women are almost similar with very small variations.
Causes of Breast Cancer in Men:
Unlike in females who’s characteristics and causes are thoroughly defined, the causes and breast cancer treatment in men is not fully characterised. Researchers have narrowed down some of the causes of this cancer in men to genetic and environmental factors. Following are the causes:
- High levels of Estrogen:
The level of Estrogen production in men is very small and minor amount. Certain conditions might trigger the estrogen in your body level up resulting in enlarged male breasts known as gynecomastia. These abnormal conditions that increases estrogen include obesity, side effects to certain medications (medicines to reduce stomach acid, high blood pressure medicines) that are taken for a long period of time.
- Hereditary Causes:
Studies show that men with a history of this kind of cancer in the family among females are on a greater risk of developing the disease. With a lifetime risk of six in hundred, if the mutated breast cancer associated gene (BRCA2) is inherited by men, then it increases the chances by a huge margin.
- Use of Finasteride:
Popularly known as the drug which is widely used to treat Propecia (baldness) in men along with the cure for prostate enlargement (in order to prevent prostate cancer), this drug is known to increase the risk factor for this cancer in men.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men:
Men should know that it is not entirely limited to only women. The symptoms in men are similar to that of in women. Some of the most evident symptoms include:
- Visible sores on the nipple and areola.
- Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm area.
- Clear or bloody nipple discharge.
- Nipple pain.
- The presence of a lump in the breast.
If your nipple goes through some changes in the colour or disfiguration, then that is also a sign of developing breast cancer. Changes like reddening, scaling, or dimpling of your skin covering the breasts is also a definite sign of this cancer in men.
It is very important to keep in mind that enlargement of both (not just one side) your breasts cannot necessarily mean that you have breast cancer. Non-cancerous enlargement of the breasts is caused due to, heavy alcohol consumption, weight gain, marijuana use etc. It is advisable to schedule a meeting with your doctor if any of these signs and symptoms are observed.
Treatment of Breast Cancer in Men:
Treatment of this cancer in men depends on many factors like the exact location of the cancer, the age of the patient, his health condition in general, and previous treatments. Switching therapy from hormone to another type of hormone therapy treatment has proven to be helpful. If hormone therapy is not responsive, then the next step is to go for a complete chemotherapy. Breast Cancer Treatment Cost vary from hospital to hospital (List of cancer hospitals in India).
Several drugs and combinations of drugs have been discovered to show positive results in the expulsion of the cancer cells.
During the stage one cancer treatment process, the main aim is to remove cancer surgically, which is done through the mastectomy. If its conserving surgery is done, then it is usually followed by a radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is the usual next step, post surgery. The lymph nodes under the arm area are detected next for the cancer spread with the help of axillary lymph node dissection (ALND)or the sentinel node biopsy (SLNB).
During the stage two when the cancer is enlarged, neoadjuvant therapy is advised. For hormone receptor positive tumours, adjuvant hormone therapy with tamoxifen is given. Chemotherapy is always given at this stage.
Since this cancer is a very rare occurrence in men, it is still being researched about and the treatments with promising results are underway. There has been a huge improvement in the medications and availability of sufficient resources for its treatment in men.