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Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women besides skin cancer, but it also impacts men. Doctors diagnose approximately 2,550 men each year with breast cancer and nearly 500 die annually from the disease. The cause of breast cancer in either men or women is unknown

Dr. John Kiluk says that Moffitt Cancer Center evaluates five to 10 new cases every year. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts that carry milk to the nipple and are known as ductal cancers. Even though men have these ducts that are nonfunctioning, they can still give rise to cancer. A small number of cancers called sarcomas and lymphomas start in other tissues in the breast but are not really thought of as breast cancers.

Even though many types of male breast cancer appear in the form of a lump in the breast, not all do and it’s important to look for symptoms including:

  • A lump or swelling, which is often painless but not always
  • Skin dimpling or puckering
  • Nipple retraction (turning in)
  • Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
  • Discharge from the nipple

Kathleen Roberto, R.N., says men tend to feel a lump when they have breast cancer because they don’t have a lot of breast tissue. She says, “There is no reason for men to get screening mammograms, even though they absolutely can, but that is the first thing we do if a man feels a lump.”  According to Roberto, men may develop excess breast tissue as they age, which increases the risk of breast cancer. Plus, the risk of breast cancer in men increases as they get older.

Treating breast cancer in men is similar to treating breast cancer in women with some minor variations. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted drug therapy.

Roberto says prevention includes maintaining a healthy weight, being aware of changes in your body, not smoking and avoiding alcohol.