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Yes, you read it right. Brest cancer in men. If you didn’t know, all people, both men and women, are born with breast tissue. Naturally, men develop far less breast tissue compared to women, so they are less prone to this type of cancer. But since they have breast tissue, they can fall victim to it.

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Statistically, one in eight women will encounter breast cancer during their lives. In men, this number is 1 in 1,000. Because of this, the risk of men developing breast cancer is lower but so is awareness for this type of cancer. So in most cases, men are not aware of the risk, and when they get diagnosed with it, it is often in later stages, and they face a not so favorable prognosis.

Male Breast Cancer

Unlike in women, the causes of this cancer in men are not yet fully understood. Almost all of the diagnosed breast cancers in men originate from their milk ducts which in men are undeveloped. In some cases, while rare, it can appear in the milk glands or on a nipple. The one thing regarding breast cancer in men which is known is that in order to know your risk of it and to know when to look for it, you need to take a look at your genetic predispositions. Like with most cancers, knowing the risk is half the cure.

Men who have a history of breast cancer in their family are at a higher risk. But it shouldn’t be looked at only from this side, as even those whose family avoided this cancer can develop it. The curious thing is that men who had their BRCA2 gene mutated carry the risk of developing both breast cancer and prostate cancer. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, the best move to pull is to get tested for a BRCA2 gene mutation. This could help your family better understand and prepare for this cancer as their chances of getting it increase.

Signs and Symptoms

Unfortunately, it is hard to detect breast cancer in men. It usually manifests as a lump or thickening on the breast tissue. In most cases, it doesn’t cause any pain. According to research from the Mayo Clinic, if cancer appears on the nipple, it will have symptoms such as scaling, redness, and discharge. Most men are not aware they can develop this cancer, so they don’t perform breast cancer tests at all. Even their routine exams don’t include these tests. Because of this, most men will discover that they have breast cancer all by themselves. At first, almost none of them will pay any attention to the symptoms, and by doing this, they will give cancer weeks and months to develop. As a consequence, they will need a more intensive treatment and more time to recover.

The good news is that there are various treatments, and in most cases of breast cancer in men, the prognosis is good. While we don’t have all male patients with this cancer documented, we can tell you that almost all of the celebrities that had this cancer survived with surgery or chemotherapy. Those who reported that they had this cancer are talk show personality Montel Williams, Cleveland Browns’ fullback Ernie Green, and KISS drummer Peter Criss.

Performing a Monthly Exam

This might sound like a nuisance, but men should perform breast cancer tests as frequently as women, which means once a month. Those who have a family history of breast cancer or their BRCA2 gene mutated should pay particular attention to this test. Also, there is an option of self-exam which is very simple. It is done by examining your breast and nipple area with your fingers, looking for retraction or discharge.

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