Breast Cancer and Men

Incidence

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. In the U.S., about one percent of all breast cancer cases occur in men [2]. In 2013, it is estimated that among men in the U.S., there will be [1]

  • 2,240 new cases of invasive breast cancer
  • 410 breast cancer deaths

Rates of breast cancer incidence (new cases, including new cases of primary breast cancer among survivors, but not recurrence of original breast cancer among survivors) and mortality (death) are much lower among men than among women [1].

Warning signs

The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump or thickening in the breast or chest area [3]. However, any change in the breast or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer in men including [3-6]:

  • Lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast, chest or underarm area (usually painless, but may be tender)
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin of the breast
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of the nipple (inverted nipple) or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge
  • As men tend to have much less breast tissue compared to women, some of these signs can be easier to notice in men than in women. These symptoms may also be signs of a benign (non-cancer) breast condition.

If you notice any of these signs or other changes in your breast, chest area or nipple, see your health care provider right away. Some men may be embarrassed about a change in their breast or chest area and put off seeing a provider, but this may result in a delay in diagnosis. Survival is highest when breast cancer is found early.

References:
[1] American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2013.
[2] American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2013-2014. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2013.
[3] National Cancer Institute. Male breast cancer treatment. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/malebreast, 2013.
[4] Wisinski KB and Gradishar WJ. Chapter 64: Male Breast Cancer. In Harris JR, Lippman ME, Morrow M, Osborne CK. Diseases of the Breast, 34thrd edition. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2010.
[5] American Society of Clinical Oncology. Breast cancer €“ male. http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/breast-cancer-male, 2010.
[6] Mayo Clinic Staff. Male breast cancer. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-breast-cancer/DS00661/DSECTION=symptoms, 2012.

*For a more comprehensive guide, please visit Breast Facts for Men, on Komen National's website.