All About Breast Cancer In Men
Breast cancer is supposedly the most frequently occurring cancer amongst females in India and accounts for up to 27% of all cancers found in women.Most people know that breast cancer is an illness that is generally linked to women, but in reality men can get it too. Yes, you read that right, men can get breast cancer as well! Awareness around this fact is extremely low.
Breast cancer amongst both genders is still considered to be something that doesn’t exist for a large number of people in this country, until a close one suffers from it. A situation like this exists because healthcare is still not a top priority even in major cities of the country. The procedure of screening is also something that is unheard of for most people. Hence, most patients suffering from breast cancer in India get detected at a very late stage (most likely at stage 3 and 4). In addition to this, breast cancer is still considered to be a taboo by many people in India. Many cultural factors discourage people suffering from breast cancer from discussing certain physical infirmities with their family, which eventually might lead to a postponement in gaining access to the required healthcare. These are some of the reasons why patients in India stand a very low chance at getting cured.
HOW IT OCCURS IN MEN?
Many of us do not know that men also have a breast tissue. The breast tissue in men consists of a few ducts located under the nipple and areola, but it is small in size and doesn’t grow much. Breast cancer generally occurs when the carcinogenic cells in the breast begin to grow rampantly. These cells usually form a tumor. The tumor is malignant if the cells can invade surrounding tissues or can spread to distant areas of the body.
The American Cancer Society has estimated that around 2,550 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and around 480 men will die from breast cancer this year. Breast cancer is still many times less common in men than in women, and that is why men are less likely to be doubtful of something strange in that part of the body. In addition to this, a small amount of breast tissue is difficult to feel, which makes it extremely tough to detect these cancers early. This also means that tumors can spread more quickly to surrounding tissues. Hence, it is extremely important to create awareness about this disease amongst men as well.
One of the common symptoms amongst men is lumps. They are one of the first symptoms to show up in a person who is suffering from breast cancer. Men tend to ignore it more than women, as the lumps are painless, most of the times. Some of the other symptoms include dented, dry, and scaly nipple; discharge and sores around the nipple.
Some of the reasons/risk factors associated with breast cancer are:
- history of breast cancer in the family.
- previous exposure to radiation.
- high levels of estrogen (gynecomastia).
- rare genetic condition: klinefelter syndrome.
- liver disease: cirrhosis.
- diseases of the testicles: mumps orchitis.
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Men who are diagnosed with breast cancer can be treated with the help of a surgery, if the cancer is in its initial stages. Hormone therapy has also been found to be effective in treating breast cancer as almost 90% of male breast cancers have hormone receptors. Other treatment options include, chemotherapy where toxic drugs are injected in order to stop the growth of cancer cells; and radiation therapy where high-energy radiation is used to kill the carcinogenic tumor cells.
Dr Sanket Shah is a Surgical Oncologist at Global Hospitals, Mumbai.