Male Breast Cancer: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Not just women but men can also get breast cancer. Know everything in detail from doctor.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Nov 04, 2022 16:19 IST
Male Breast Cancer: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Breast cancer is frequently thought of as a condition that solely affects women. Men can also develop breast cancer, albeit it's uncommon. 0.5% to 1% of all breast cancer cases in men are diagnosed with the disease. Males have a about 1 in 833 lifetime risk of contracting breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Men can develop breast cancer at any age, although older men over the age of 60 are more likely to develop it. Male breast cancer that is detected early on has a decent chance of being cured. In this article, Dr. K. Sreekanth, Sr. Consultant Surgical Oncologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad explains all about breast cancer in men.

Breast cancer  typically starts in the glands that produce breast milk or in the ducts that deliver milk to the nipples. Men have these ducts and glands, but they are inactive.

Sarcomas (cancer that originates in soft tissues including fats, muscles, and deep skin tissues) and lymphomas (cancer that arises in the body's immune system cells) are the diseases that spread to other breast tissues.

Causes Of Breast Cancer In Men

  • Hormonal balance: Estrogen, a female hormone, promotes breast cell growth and division. Breast cancer is a result of increased oestrogen levels brought on by certain disorders or situations.
  • Klinefelter syndrome:  Men have an extra X chromosome at birth due to this hereditary abnormality. They have lower levels of androgens (male hormones) and higher quantities of oestrogen in their systems. Therefore, they have an increased chance of getting breast cancer.
  • Liver cirrhosis: Men with liver cirrhosis have higher levels of oestrogen and lower levels of masculine hormones. It makes men more likely to develop breast cancer.
  • Mutations: DNA mutations may be brought on by radiation or cancer-causing substances. BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Testicular Disease: Testicular diseases: Some testicular cancers or testicle injuries increase estrogen levels in men. Consequently, there is a higher chance of getting breast cancer.
  • Hormone therapy: The hormone therapy used to treat prostate cancer with oestrogen increases the risk of breast cancer.
Causes Of Breast Cancer In Men

Risk Factors

  • Age: Aging is one of the key risk factors for breast cancer in males. A greater chance of acquiring breast cancer exists in men over 60.
  • Family history: Breast cancer is more likely to affect men whose blood relatives have had the disease. One in five breast cancer patients in men have a family history of the illness.
  • Obesity: Being obese or overweight raises your risk of developing breast cancer. Androgens (male hormones) are converted into estrogens by fat cells in the body (female hormones). As a result, obesity raises the body's oestrogen levels.
  • Lack of exercise: Being inactive raises your risk of developing breast cancer. Your immune system is strengthened and hormone levels are lowered by exercise.
  • Alcohol consumption: Due to its impact on the liver, consuming two or more alcoholic beverages daily may raise the chance of developing breast cancer.

How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed In Men

Clinical Breast Examination: The doctor thoroughly checks the breasts to look for lumps or other abnormalities.

Mammography: A diagnostic mammography, a low-dose X-ray examination of the breast, aids in locating breast tissue tumours.

Using ultrasound, breast tissue pictures are produced using sound waves. Breast cancer can be diagnosed with ultrasound because it can distinguish between a solid mass (cancerous development) and a fluid-filled cyst (usually non-cancerous).

Examination of nipple discharge: Nipple discharge is inspected under a microscope to look for cancer cells in any clear, hazy, or bloody discharge.

Biopsy: During a biopsy, the doctor takes tissue samples from the breast using a specific needle. The grade of the malignancy is then determined by examining these tissues in a lab. Depending on the methods and needles used, there are various types of biopsies:

  • A portion of the mass is removed for inspection during an incisional biopsy.
  • Excisional biopsy: removal of the entire lump of tissue for testing.
  • A fine needle is used in a fine needle aspiration biopsy to take tissue or fluid from the breasts.
  • A larger needle is used in a core biopsy to extract tissues.
How is Breast Cancer Diagnosed In Men


  • Surgery: Breast cancer is removed with surgery. The surgeon may perform a mastectomy or simply remove a lump (lumpectomy). Additionally, surgery may be required to remove lymph nodes.
  • Radiation: In this form of treatment, radiation is utilised to specifically target and kill cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy: To treat breast cancer, a doctor may recommend medications in the form of tablets or injections. The oestrogen hormone's effects will be blocked or diminished by these medications.
  • Chemotherapy: For several weeks or months, patients receive intravenous infusions or oral drugs. These drugs either target and destroy cancer cells or prevent cancer from spreading.


Breast cancer risk can be reduced by the following:

  • Being healthy in terms of weight
  • Restricting alcohol intake
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle routine screening

If breast cancer runs in your family, you may want to consider genetic testing for gene mutations. This would help analyse the risk in advance.

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