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Contact: Rebecca Climer, rclimer@sth.org

Male breast cancer and the six risk factors men should know

Picture someone with breast cancer. Most likely, it wasn’t a man who came to mind. We all often forget that breast cancer isn’t just limited to women. In fact, about 2,140 American men will develop breast cancer this year, a 25 percent increase over the past 25 years.

Most men with breast cancer notice it themselves, typically noting a firm, painless lump, usually under the nipple. Though bleeding or discharge is rare, the nipple itself is often ulcerated. The average man with breast cancer is 60 to 70 years old.

“Early detection of breast cancer is just as critical for men as it is for women,” said Dr. Laura Lawson, breast surgeon with Tennessee Breast Specialists. “Therefore, it’s important that men understand their risks, as well. It could help save your life.”

Although the cause of male breast cancer is unknown, there are certain known risk factors associated with the disease:

  • Family history: Men with a strong family history of female breast cancer are at higher than average risk. Particularly, more than 6 percent of men who inherit the BRCA2 breast cancer gene will be diagnosed with breast cancer before they reach age 70.
  • Prostate cancer: Treatments for prostate cancer that involve androgen deprivation have twice the risk of breast cancer, but the risk is still very small.
  • Low testosterone: Abnormally low testosterone levels due to
    • Advancing age

    • Obesity

    • Diseases such as cirrhosis Klinefelter’s syndrome

    • Infertility

    • Testicular abnormalities

    • Alcohol abuse

  • High estrogen
  • Jewish ancestry
  • Radiation exposure

Although breast cancer is much rarer in men than women, it still exists. Know your risk factors and pay attention to the changes in your breasts. If you notice bleeding, milky discharge from the nipple, nipple enlargement, or an abnormal thickening or lump near one of your nipples, talk to your doctor.

Taking care of yourself is important. This includes a healthy diet and regular checkups. If you don’t have a primary care physician, call 1-800-DOCTORS or visit www.1800Doctors.com for a free physician referral.

For more information on Tennessee Breast Specialists, visit www.TennesseeBreastSpecialists.com or call 615.284.5887.

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