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
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
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 www.princetonhcs.org