Breast cancer is often believed to be a medical condition specific to women but men too, can be affected by it. Although the first clinical case of male breast cancer was reported in the 14th century in England, it finds mention in The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus way back in 3000 to 2500 B.C.
Incidences of breast cancer in men are rare. According to Dr. Nanda Rajneesh, Consultant- General Surgery, Nova Specialty Surgery, 1 in 100 cases of breast cancer affects men.
Under certain conditions, men tend to produce higher levels of oestrogen, the female hormone which make them more vulnerable to breast cancer. Klienfelter’s syndrome is one such condition where a man inherits two female “X” chromosomes from his parents. This leads to Hyperestrogenism in which the male breast tissue starts growing and increases the risk of breast cancer in men.
The implication of breast cancer on men’s health cannot be understated or ignored. Men often tend to ignore the signs and symptoms of breast cancer or rather fail to recognize them. This often leads to a late diagnosis. According to the National Cancer Institute, 2,240 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and 410 of them were fatal.
So when is the time to be cautious? The most common symptom of breast cancer in men is a persistent hard lump that might occur on one of the breasts. Changing texture of skin, nipple rashes or a clear discharge from the nipples are some of the symptoms of breast cancer. Tests like mammogram and biopsy are done to determine malignancy. Breast Cancer in men spreads faster compared to women due to less fat tissue. However, not all outgrowths are cancerous.
Treatment of breast cancer in men can be surgical (mastectomy) or non-surgical depending on the stage of the disease. In the surgical procedure, the cancer-inflicted breast is removed so that it does not affect the good tissue. Unlike women, men need minimal reconstruction after mastectomy. Non-surgical treatments include chemotherapy,radiation therapy,hormone therapy, etc.
Constant fear, uncertainties, lack of gender-specific information makes it difficult for men to cope with this disease. The call of the hour is to increase awareness among men about the disease since this is the first step towards prevention.