Can Men Get Breast Cancer
Prof Tan tells us all we need to know about breast cancer in men.
Q: Can men get breast cancer? If yes, are the causes different from women? How does a man check whether he is at risk of breast cancer?
Dr Walter Tan: Yes, men can get breast cancer too. However, the incidence of male breast cancer is very much lower. Less than 1% of the total breast cancer cases are male. The prognosis in males with breast cancer is generally worse than in females, however, due to the small size of the male breast and the tendency of the cancer to spread beyond the breast more easily.
The causes are essentially:
(a) Genetic causes, or
(b) Environmental causes e.g. obesity, hormonal imbalances etc. However the incidence level is much lower in males because the level of the female hormone, oestrogen, hormone that can stimulate growth of breast cells and trigger formation of breast cancer, is much lower.
If a man comes from a family with a history of breast cancer, he can go for genetic testing for the breast cancer gene to see if he is also a carrier of the gene. Carriers (both male and female) have a 50% to 80% risk of getting breast cancer in their lifetimes.
If a man discovers a lump in the breast, he should immediately see a surgical oncologist to exclude breast cancer.
Answered by: Prof Walter Tan, Consultant General Surgeon (Plastic Surgery, Head & Neck and Breast Surgery), Raffles Hospital
This article is provided by Raffles Medical Group. For more information visit http://www.rafflesmedicalgroup.com/