Health and MedicineDiseasesBreast cancer in men: symptoms, causes and treatment

Breast cancer in men: symptoms, causes and treatment

Did you know that men can get breast cancer too? Knowing its symptoms is useful for its diagnosis, as well as knowing what causes it and what risk factors influence its appearance.

According to the Association against Cancer, breast cancer is the most common malignant tumor among women around the world. Furthermore, in 2008 around 1,380,000 new cases were diagnosed, thus becoming one of the most frequent tumors in the female population, both in developed and developing countries. But its incidence in our country is low compared to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or Germany, diagnosing approximately 26,000 new cases per year.

However, did you know that men can get breast cancer too? As in the case of women, we are faced with a condition in which cancerous cells – malignant – are formed in the different tissues of the breast. However, its incidence is very low: it represents less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer (in both women and men).

It is a type of cancer that can occur in men at any age, but it generally tends to be found and detected in men between the ages of 60 and 70.

What are the risk factors that influence breast cancer in men?

As you will surely know, any element or situation that increases the risk of suffering a certain disease is considered a risk factor. In the case of cancer, having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer, just as not having it does not mean that you will not get cancer.

Among the factors that increase the risk of breast cancer in men we can mention the following conditions:

  • Radiation exposures.
  • Klinefelter syndrome (genetic condition in males caused by the presence of one or more extra X chromosomes, causing the lack of hair on the face and body, small testicles and larger than normal breasts).
  • Diseases related to high estrogen levels, such as cirrhosis.
  • Family inheritance of breast cancer, especially with the alteration in the BRCA2 gene.

In the case of hereditary breast cancer, it represents about 5 to 10% of all cases of breast cancer.

Symptoms of breast cancer in men.

Generally, men with breast cancer have lumps in their breasts that can be felt, in the same way that it occurs with female breast cancer. These masses are noticeable as nodules in the breasts.

If persistent changes are observed in the breasts, it is necessary to consult a doctor. In this sense, among the symptoms or signs that should be paid attention to are the following:

  • Lump or mass in the breast.
  • Inverted nipple.
  • Pain in the nipple
  • Nipple discharge, either bloody or clear.
  • Ulcers on the areola and nipple.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm.

In the presence of any of these symptoms, it is necessary to see a doctor quickly, since as with breast cancer in women, early diagnosis is essential to carry out rapid treatment and increase the chances of cure.

How is it diagnosed?

There are different techniques that allow a diagnosis of breast cancer to be made, especially when an abnormality has already been detected. Mammography is particularly noteworthy, consisting of an image of the breast obtained with X-rays.

We can also mention ultrasound, which sends high-frequency sound waves through the breast, turning them into images on a viewing screen. In these cases, it is used only as an adjunct to other studies, especially if abnormalities are observed on the mammogram or if some type of abnormality is actually palpable during the physical examination.

Finally, the biopsy is extremely useful to distinguish normal tissue from cancerous tissue.  And if the presence of cancer is detected, it is useful to determine the size and type of breast cancer.

How is breast cancer in men treated?

As with women, when a man is diagnosed with breast cancer, he must undergo some medical treatment usually used against the disease, but his choice depends on different factors and / or elements, such as: size and location of the tumor, stage and stage of the cancer and other results obtained by laboratory tests.

Among the treatments that are commonly carried out after a diagnosis of breast cancer in men, below we will tell you what they are:

  • Surgery:  It is considered as the first medical treatment that is carried out. The most common is known as modified radical mastectomy, in which the nipple, areola, all breast tissue and lymph nodes are removed, leaving only the chest muscles. In fact, it is unusual to keep the breast, especially due to the smaller size of male breasts, compared to female breasts, which tend to be larger.
  • Radiation therapy:  Also known as radiation therapy, it is very effective in destroying cancer cells that may have remained after surgery, as it is a highly targeted method.
  • Chemotherapy:  It is especially recommended in those cases in which there is a certain risk of spreading the cancer outside the breast (or also when it has already spread).
  • Hormone therapy:  These are drugs that act on the different hormone receptors in breast cancer cells. It is very effective when hormone receptor positive (estrogen or progesterone) breast cancer is diagnosed.

 New drug to cure breast cancer: 50% complete cure rates.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, although many medical specialists agree that, diagnosed early in its early stages, it can be treated effectively and therefore expired. Therefore, you should never forget a fundamental question: breast self-examination is very important, precisely because it helps detect changes in the breasts and detect possible lumps that could be benign or not.

On this occasion we have learned of the appearance of an experimental drug known by the name of Nintedanib, which, in combination with standard chemotherapy with paclitaxel, causes a total remission of tumors in 50% of patients with early HER-type breast cancer. 2-negative (the most frequent).

According to the head of the CNIO unit, “the combination of the drugs has turned out to be a success, since it has proven to be totally safe and has yielded complete cure rates of 50%”.

The clinical study has included a dozen patients with this type of breast cancer. In view of the results, the CNIO has launched a new clinical study, this time on a large scale, in phase II with the aim of validating the work in a greater number of patients. Its results are expected early next year, 2015.

How does this new drug work?

According to the researchers, the mechanism of action of this new drug consists of blocking the formation of new blood vessels that surround the tumors (angiogenesis), thus compromising their growth and viability, since they die of starvation.

In addition to blocking receptors for vascular endothelial growth factor and platelet-derived growth factor, it also acts on receptors for fibroblast growth factor.


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