Health News Articles

Breast Cancer: Not for Women Only

Jun 1, 2013

Breast cancer in men is rare, but is treatable if caught early.

“Breast cancer in men is uncommon, but it does occur and should be taken as seriously as if a woman had it,” says David Sokol, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, Hematology/ Oncology at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP), and assistant professor of Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The most common symptom of breast cancer in men is a lump near the nipple. Sometimes it’s accompanied by an ulceration of the skin, puckering or dimpling, redness or scaling of the nipple, or retraction (turning inward) of the nipple.

Breast cancer is usually diagnosed in men between the ages of 60 and 70; a diagnosis for men under 35 is rare. The presence of cancer is diagnosed through a biopsy, and additional testing is performed to determine if the cancer has spread or if it is localized just to the breast.

“A mastectomy, which removes all the breast tissue, is always part of the treatment plan,” says Dr. Sokol. “In women, we consider performing the less radical lumpectomy and breast conservation surgery if deemed an appropriate option. That’s because preserving their breasts is generally more important to women than men.”

After surgery, a treatment plan may include a combination of radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy.

The number one risk factor for male breast cancer is a genetic predisposition most commonly due to a mutation in the BRCA2 gene, often called “the breast cancer gene.” Klinefelter’s syndrome—a chromosomal abnormality—is another genetic condition with an increased risk of male breast cancer.

When caught in the early stages, breast cancer in men has from 84-100 percent survival rates. “Breast cancer in men can have successful outcomes, but men need to seek medical attention right away if they find a lump in their breast tissue,” says Dr. Sokol.

For more information about cancer services at the Edward & Marie Matthews Center for Cancer Care, or to find a Princeton HealthCare System physician, call 1.888.PHCS4YOU (1.888.742.7496) or visit