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 and Delivery of High Quality Cancer Care in Essex"
NHS Essex Cancer Network

Breast Cancer (Male)

About

Breast cancer is often thought of as something that only affects women, but men can get it in rare cases. It develops in the small amount of breast tissue men have behind their nipples.

It usually occurs in men over 60, but can very occasionally affect younger men.

This page covers:

Symptoms

When to see your GP

Treatments

Outlook

Causes

Symptoms of breast cancer in men

Signs of breast cancer in men include:

  • a lump in the breast – this is usually hard, painless and doesn't move around within the breast
  • the nipple turning inwards (inverted nipple)
  • fluid oozing from the nipple (nipple discharge), which may be streaked with blood
  • a sore or rash around the nipple that doesn't go away
  • the nipple or surrounding skin becoming hard, red or swollen
  • small bumps in the armpit (swollen glands)

Read more about the symptoms of breast cancer in men.

When to see your GP

See your GP if you have:

  • a lump in your breast
  • any other worrying symptoms, such as nipple discharge
  • a history of breast cancer (in men or women) in close members of your family and you're worried about your chances of getting it

It's very unlikely you have cancer, but it's best to get checked out. Your GP will examine your breast and can refer you for tests and scans for breast cancer if needed.

If you don't have symptoms but have a clear family history of breast cancer, your GP may refer you to a genetic specialist to discuss your risk of getting it.

There are some inherited genes that increase your risk of cancer and a blood test can be done to check for these. Read about testing for cancer risk genes.

Treatments for breast cancer in men

The treatment for breast cancer in men depends on how far the cancer has spread.

Possible treatments include:

  • surgery to remove the affected breast tissue and nipple (mastectomy) and some of the glands in your armpit
  • radiotherapy – where radiation is used to kill cancer cells
  • chemotherapy – where medication is used to kill cancer cells
  • other medicines that help stop breast cancer growing – including tamoxifen and trastuzumab (Herceptin) 

Many men have surgery followed by one or more of the other treatments. This can help stop the cancer coming back in the future.

Read more about treatments for breast cancer in men.

Outlook for breast cancer in men

The outlook for breast cancer in men varies depending on how far it has spread by the time it's diagnosed.

It may be possible to cure breast cancer it it's caught at an early stage.

A cure is much less likely if the cancer isn't found until it has spread beyond the breast. In these cases, treatment can relieve your symptoms and help you live longer.

Speak to your breast care nurse if you'd like to know more about the outlook for your cancer.

Causes of breast cancer in men

The exact cause of breast cancer in men isn't known, but there are some things that increase your risk of getting it.

These include:

  • genes and family history – inheriting faulty versions of genes called BRCA1 or BRCA2 increases your risk of breast cancer
  • taking medicines that increase the amount of a hormone called oestrogen in the body, such as hormone medicines sometimes used for prostate cancer
  • conditions that can increase the level of oestrogen in the body – including obesity, Klinefelter syndrome and scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
  • previous radiotherapy to the chest area

It's not certain if you can do anything to reduce your risk, but eating a balanced dietlosing weight if you're overweight and not drinking too much alcohol may help.

Further information on breast cancer in men

Information Prescription Service

To access the Information Prescription Service and the national cancer information pathway for male breast cancer please click on the link below. Then click on 'Specialist information from our charity partners'

www.nhs.uk

Macmillan Cancer Support Website

www.macmillan.org.uk

Cancer Research UK Website

www.cancerresearchuk.org

Further Information

Visit or phone a local cancer information centre

There are several cancer information and support centres in Essex Cancer Network where anyone affected by cancer can be sure of a warm welcome and high quality, accurate, evidence-based information:

Basildon Hospital Macmillan Info and Support Centre, Outpatients Dept, Basildon Hospital, staffed Monday 2pm - Friday 12.30pm,tel: 0845 155 3111 extension 4908

Macmillan Info and Support Centre,Essex County Hospital, Outpatients Dept, Monday - Friday office hours, tel: 01206 747474

Information Resource Service, St Luke's House, Corringham,Thurrock, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01375 648170

Lantern Suite, Farleigh Hospice,Chelmsford, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01245 457418

Hospice Outreach Project Information Bus, Farleigh Hospice, covers the Chelmsford area. Contact Farleigh Hospice as above

For more information, please contact the service direct.

 

Visit your local library in Essex Cancer Network

Essex, Southend and Thurrock library services have worked in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Essex Cancer Network to establish collections of quality assured information books and pamphlets about cancer. These can be accessed at any library: just ask. Additionally some staff at libraries have been trained to help patients use the Information Prescription Service.

Contact Macmillan Cancer Support Helplines

If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just someone to talk to, call free, Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm (interpretation service available) tel: 0808 808 0000

For financial queries tel: 0808 808 2232

 

Remember: Stay safe online when looking for support!

Internet chat rooms and message forums can be valuable sources of support and comfort, enabling you to meet others in the same position. However, there is potential for abuse - please read these guidelines before you set off to explore...

Click here to download the draft guidelines

 

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