Breast Cancer in Men

October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  You may see ads of survivors and supporters lavished in pink, bringing awareness to the impact that breast cancer has made on the lives of many. However, one group may be overlooked…men.

While the percentage is low, men also get breast cancer. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1% of all breast cancer cases in the United States.1 According to the American Cancer Society, 2,620 men will be diagnosed with, and 520 men will die from, breast cancer by the end of 2020.2

A male’s breast tissue can develop cancerous cells in various parts of the breast. Although normally not functional in men, cancer can begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple (ductal cancers) and glands that make milk (lobular cancers). Ductal carcinoma in situ, invasive lobular carcinoma, and invasive ductal carcinoma are the most common types of breast cancer in men. 3

Risk Factors

The risk factors for breast cancer among women and men are similar in many ways. However, there are two differences. Liver disease and conditions that affect the testicles increases the risk that a man will develop breast cancer.

Picture by Tumisu from Pixabay

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020  

Signs and Symptoms

Picture from the Indian Journal of Surgical Oncology, 2020

Common signs and symptoms of male breast cancer are:

  • Nipple discharge
  • Pain in the nipple area
  • Pulling in of the nipple
  • A lump or swelling in the breast
  • Redness or flaky skin around the breast
  • Irritation or dimpling of the breast

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020  


Clinical breast exam – Similar to a woman’s breast exam, a doctor uses their fingers to exam the breast.

Imaging tests – Men can receive an X-ray or ultrasound.

Biopsy – The most conclusive way to determine if cancer is present. Tissue is extracted from the area and examined.  

Source: Mayo Clinic, 2020


Surgery – Removal of tumor and breast tissue

Radiation therapy – May be used after surgery to remove cancerous cells  

Hormone therapy – Tamoxifen may be used for treatment as other hormone therapy treatments used for women may not work

Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy may be administered intravenously, through a pill, or both

Source: Mayo Clinic, 2020


Picture by Teamsmashgames from Pixabay

Though there are risk factors that put men at a greater risk of developing breast cancer, making healthy lifestyle changes, weight management, exercising, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking may lower the risk that a man will develop most types of cancer.

As we acknowledge women impacted by breast cancer, let us remember that there are men who have survived and lost their lives to the same disease.


The Male Breast Cancer Coalition                        

American Cancer Society


Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Breast Cancer in Men. Retrieved from

American Cancer Society. (2020). Key Statistics for Breast Cancer in Men. Retrieved from

American Cancer Society. (2018). What is Breast Cancer in Men? Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Breast Cancer in Men. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. (2020). Male breast cancer. Retrieved from

First Image from Comanche County Memorial Hospital


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