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Male Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer in men is a rare disease. Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. In 2020, about 2,620 men are expected to be diagnosed with the disease, and an estimated 520 men are expected to die from breast cancer. For men, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is about 1 in 833.

You may be thinking: Men don't have breasts, so how can they get breast cancer? The truth is that boys and girls, men and women all have breast tissue. The various hormones in girls' and women's bodies stimulate the breast tissue to grow into full breasts. Boys' and men's bodies normally don't make much of the breast-stimulating hormones. As a result, their breast tissue usually stays flat and small. Still, you may have seen boys and men with medium-sized or big breasts. Usually these breasts are just mounds of fat. But sometimes men can develop real breast gland tissue because they take certain medicines or have abnormal hormone levels.

Because breast cancer in men is rare, few cases are available to study. Most studies of men with breast cancer are very small. But when a number of these small studies are grouped together, we can learn more from them.

In this section, you can learn the basic information about male breast cancer:

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The medical experts for Male Breast Cancer are:

  • Lisa Attebery, DO, breast surgeon, assistant professor of surgery, Dept. of Surgery, Cooper University Hospital, The Cancer Institute of Surgery
  • Jennifer Harned Adams, Ph.D., Department of Behavioral Science, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
  • Marisa Weiss, M.D., chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org; breast radiation oncologist, Lankenau Medical Center, part of Main Line Health, a five-hospital health system in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA

References

  1. American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Breast Cancer in Men. January 2020. Available at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/about/key-statistics.html.

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