Male breast cancer: symptoms and how to diagnose
Even with a lower incidence, breast cancer also affects men, especially those of older age.
Anyone who thinks that breast cancer is a condition that only affects cis women is wrong. Even though men usually don’t have developed breasts, they do have breast tissue – which is already enough to develop the tumor in that region.
The incidence is low, representing only 1% of all breast cancer casesaccording to the José Alencar Gomes da Silva National Cancer Institute (INCA), characterizing the situation as a rare disease. But that doesn’t mean that breast cancer in men is milder. On the contrary. The warning signs are the same, regardless of gender.
“A recent example was the father of singer Beyoncé, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 67,” says Heliégina Palmieris, a breast specialist at Rede de Hospitals São Camilo SP. Advanced age – over 50 years – is among the main risk factors for male breast cancer, along with family history, obesity, liver diseases (such as cirrhosis), testicular changes and treatment for prostate cancer.
Male breast cancer: symptoms
The symptoms of breast cancer are similar for everyone. “Usually, the most common sign is a lump (lump) behind the areola, associated with the output of nipple secretion”, explains the mastologist.
This cancerous lump is usually irregular and affects only one breast, growing under or around the nipple. It is fixed – that is, it does not keep moving inside the chest -, painless and progressively growing. There are also other characteristic symptoms of male breast cancer, such as:
Nipple secretion, which may appear accompanied by blood;
Redness, irritation or swelling of the skin in the breast area;
Sores or rashes around the nipple;
Small “lumps” in the armpit (usually swollen lymph nodes).
If the condition progresses to metastatic breast cancer, when the tumor spreads to other parts of the body, such as bones, lungs or liver, symptoms such as:
The appearance of these signs will depend on the organs affected by the metastases.
Which test detects male breast cancer?
The diagnosis of male breast cancer is made through ultrasound, mammography and breast lump biopsy – the same tests used to detect breast cancer in anyone.
Breast ultrasound is indicated to analyze the suspicion of a breast lump – when it is not yet known whether it is benign or malignant. “He is not indicated for screening for breast cancer; this must be done with mammography”, reinforces oncologist Fernando Medina.
Mammography is basically an X-ray of breast tissue, capable of identifying lesions characteristic of breast cancer at an early stage, even before the nodules are palpable.
When observing any suspicious changes during the mammogram, the next step is to perform the biopsy to assess whether or not it is a malignant tumor. This biopsy can be done with the help of breast ultrasound.
The treatment of breast cancer depends on the stage of the disease and the characteristics of the tumor – whether there are metastases or not. But generally speaking, it can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone blockade (hormone therapy or immunotherapy), and surgery.
The only difference in the treatment of male breast cancer is the surgical procedure. “Usually, in men, total mastectomy is indicated (removal of the entire breast with areola and nipple), and in women the treatment is more conservative (removal only the tumor area with margins)”, explains Palmieris.
To prevent male breast cancer, considering the risk factors for the disease, it is important for the person to have a preventive mammogram and maintain healthy lifestyle habits, such as a balanced diet and regular physical activity.
Breast cancer and trans people
according to a search published in British Medical Journal (The BMJ), Trans women are more likely to develop breast cancer than cis men, especially during hormone treatment.
Trans men, on the other hand, have a lower risk compared to cis women, especially those who underwent masculinizing mastectomy, when most of the breast tissue is removed. But this does not exclude the chances of developing breast cancer, especially people with a family history.
Therefore, it is essential that trans men and women undergo preventive exams from the age of 40 and seek a doctor if they feel any breast lump. Early detection is the key to disease remission.
Content for educational purposes only. Consult a Doctor.
The translator user relied on the following source:
Minha Vida Website – REF99827
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