Breast cancer is often considered a woman’s disease, but men can get breast cancer too.
Approximately 25 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand every year. It is also more common in Māori and Pasifika men than in European men. So yes, it’s a rare cancer, but it does happen.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about breast cancer in men, including the risk factors, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in Men
The exact cause of breast cancer in men is unknown, but certain risk factors can increase your chances of developing the disease. These include:
- Age: Breast cancer in men is most common in men over 60 but can occur at any age.
- Family history: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you’re at an increased risk of developing the disease yourself.
- Genetic mutations: Genetic mutations, such as the BRCA2 mutation, can increase your risk of breast cancer.
- Certain medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome and liver disease, can also increase your risk of breast cancer.
- Radiation Exposure: Exposure to radiation, such as from radiation therapy for other types of cancer, can also increase your risk of breast cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men
The most common symptom of breast cancer in men is a lump in the breast tissue. The lump is usually hard and painless, possibly behind the nipple or in the armpit.
Other signs and symptoms of breast cancer in men include:
- Changes to the skin on the breast, such as dimpling, puckering, or scaling
- Changes to the nipple, such as a nipple that turns inward or discharge from the nipple
- Pain or tenderness in the breast or armpit
- Swollen glands in the armpit
- Diagnosis of Breast Cancer in Men
If you have any signs or symptoms of breast cancer, you must see your doctor immediately. Your physician will conduct a physical examination and inquire about your medical background. They may also order tests like a mammogram or biopsy.
Treatment Options for Breast Cancer in Men
The treatment options for breast cancer in men vary depending on the cancer stage and other factors. The most common treatments include:
- Surgery: Surgery to remove the breast tumour and surrounding tissue is the most common treatment for breast cancer in men.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy employs high-energy X-rays or various forms of radiation to eliminate cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves using drugs to eradicate cancer cells throughout the body.
- Hormonal therapy: Hormonal therapy uses drugs to block the production of oestrogen or other hormones that can fuel cancer growth.
- Cancer Care and Support in New Zealand
Many cancer care and support services are available for men with breast cancer in New Zealand. These services can help you cope with breast cancer’s physical and emotional challenges, supporting you and your family.
Some of the cancer care and support services available in New Zealand include:
- Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand: The Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand provides support services for men with breast cancer, including information and resources, counselling, and support groups.
- Cancer Society New Zealand: The Cancer Society New Zealand provides support services for people with cancer and their families, including information and resources, counselling, and support groups.
In addition to these national organisations, local cancer support groups and services are available throughout NZ. You can find more information about these services by contacting your local cancer society or hospital.
Remember, gentlemen, your health matters. Don’t ignore any unusual changes in your breast tissue; always consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, but knowledge and early detection can make all the difference.