Male breast cancer is a rare form of the disease. Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men. It’s most common among older men, but it can occur at any age. Despite its relative rarity, the occurrence of the disease is on the rise. According to current estimates, 2,670 new cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2019. This worse outcome may be due to delay in diagnosis and treatment.
Currently, there are no screening recommendations for male breast cancer, so men are encouraged to bring any changes in their breast health to their primary physician. Signs and symptoms may include a painless lump or thickening in your breast tissue, changes to the skin covering your breasts, such as dimpling, rashes, redness or scaling. Nipple discharge is also a signal to get checked.
As with breast cancer in women, male breast cancer should be managed by a multidisciplinary team in a comprehensive cancer center. This team usually includes a breast surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, plastic/reconstructive surgeon, and geneticist. One aspect of the treatment plan includes surgery for tumor removal and staging of the disease. In most cases, surgery for male breast cancer includes a mastectomy; however, studies suggest that the lump can be removed without having to remove the whole breast.
UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center is one of a few select cancer centers that specialize in male breast reconstruction after surgery. Reconstruction may be beneficial in select patients who find the loss of a normal chest contour distressing or cosmetically unappealing. Several options exist to help re-establish the natural chest contour, such as fat grafting, implant-based or autologous flap-based reconstruction. In addition, a male nipple-areola complex can be created using a tattoo or special nipple reconstruction techniques.
To learn more about the family of experts at UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, or to schedule an appointment, visit UTHealthsaMDAnderson.org or call 210-450-1000.
Author: Maryam Elmi, M.D., MSc, FRCSC
Breast Surgical Oncologist
Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology & Endocrine Surgery
UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center