Breast cancer in men: symptoms, causes and treatment

According to the Spanish Association Against Cancer Breast cancer is the most frequent malignant tumor among women around the world. Moreover, in 2008, about 1,380,000 new cases were diagnosed, becoming one of the most frequent tumors in the female population, both in developed countries and in those in the process of development. But its incidence in our country is low compared to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or Germany, diagnosing approximately 26,000 new cases per year.

However, did you know that men can also suffer from breast cancer? As in the case of women, we are faced with a A condition in which malignant cancer cells form in different tissues of the breast. However, its incidence is very low: it represents less than 1% of all cases of breast cancer (both in women and men).

It is a type of cancer that can occur in men at any age, but usually tends to be found and detected in men aged between 60 and 70 years.

What are the risk factors that influence the appearance of breast cancer in men?

As you surely know, a risk factor is considered to be any element or situation that increases the risk of suffering from a certain disease. In the case of cancer, presenting a risk factor does not mean that you are going to suffer cancer, just as not having cancer does not mean that you will not get cancer.

Among the factors that increase the risk of suffering from breast cancer in men we can mention the following conditions:

  • Exposures to radiation.
  • Klinefelter syndrome (genetic condition in males produced by the presence of one or more extra X chromosomes, causing the lack of hair on face and body, small testicles and larger than normal breasts).
  • Diseases related to high estrogen concentrations, such as cirrhosis.
  • Family inheritance of breast cancer, especially with the alteration in the BRCA2 gene.

In the case of hereditary breast cancer accounts for about 5 to 10% of all cases of breast cancer.

Symptoms of breast cancer in men

Generally, men with breast cancer have masses in their breasts that can be felt, in the same way that happens with female breast cancer. These masses are noted as nodules in the sinuses.

If persistent changes are observed in the breasts it is necessary to consult the doctor. In this sense, among the symptoms or signs to which attention should be paid are the following:

  • Bulk or mass in the breast.
  • Inverted nipple
  • Nipple pain
  • Secretions in the nipple, either bloody or transparent.
  • Ulcers in the areola and nipple.
  • Dilated lymph nodes under the arm.

In the presence of any of these symptoms it is necessary to go quickly to the doctor, since as with breast cancer in women, precocity in the diagnosis is essential to carry out a quick treatment and increase the chances of cure.

How is it diagnosed?

There are different techniques that allow a diagnosis of breast cancer, especially when an abnormality has already been detected. It emphasizes especially the mammography, consisting of an image of the breast that is obtained with X-rays.

We can also mention the ultrasound, which sends high-frequency sound waves through the breast, converting them into images on a viewing screen. In these cases, it is used only as a complement to other studies, especially if abnormalities are observed on mammography or if some type of abnormality is palpated during the physical examination.

Finally the biopsy It is extremely useful to distinguish normal tissue from cancerous tissue. And if the presence of cancer is detected, it is useful to determine the size and type of breast cancer.

How is breast cancer treated in men?

As with women, when a man is diagnosed with breast cancer he must undergo some medical treatment usually used against the disease, but his choice depends on different factors and / or elements, such as: size and location of the tumor , stage and stage of the cancer and other results obtained through laboratory analysis.

Among the treatments that are commonly carried out after a diagnosis of breast cancer in men, below we will tell you what they are:

  • Surgery:It is considered as the first medical treatment that is carried out. The most common is the one known asmodified radical mastectomy, in which the nipple, areola, all breast tissue and lymph nodes are removed, leaving only the chest muscles. In fact, it is not usual to conserve the breast, especially due to the smaller size of the male breasts, compared to the breasts of women, which tend to be larger.
  • Radiotherapy:Also known as radiation therapy, it is very effective at destroying cancer cells that may have been left after surgery, since it is a highly targeted method.
  • Chemotherapy:It is especially recommended in those cases in which there is some risk of cancer spreading outside the breast (or also when it has already spread).
  • Hormonotherapy:They are drugs that act on different hormone receptors in breast cancer cells. It is very effective when breast cancer is diagnosed with positive hormone receptors (estrogen or progesterone).

New drug to cure breast cancer: complete cure rates of 50%

The breast cancer It is the second cause of death in women, although many medical specialists agree that, diagnosed early in its early stages, it can be treated effectively and therefore defeated. Therefore, you should never forget a fundamental question: breast self-examination is very important, precisely because it helps to detect changes in the breasts and to detect possible bulges that could be benign or not.

On this occasion we have known the appearance of an experimental drug known by the name of Nintedanib, which in combination with standard chemotherapy with paclitaxel, causes a total remission of tumors in 50% of patients with early breast cancer type HER-2-negative (the most frequent).

These are the conclusions of a chemical study promoted by the National Center for Oncological Research (CNIO), which is in phase I, published by the print edition of the specialized journalBritish Journal of Cancer.

According to the head of the CNIO unit, Miguel Ángel Quintela, "the combination of the drugs has proved to be a success, since it has been shown to be totally safe and has achieved 50% complete cure rates".

The clinical study has included a dozen patients with this type of breast cancer. In view of the results, the CNIO has launched a new clinical study, this time on a large scale, in phase II with the aim of validating the work in a greater number of patients. Your results are expected by the beginning of next year, 2015.

How does this new drug work?

According to the researchers, the mechanism of action of this new drug consists in blocking the formation of new blood vessels surrounding the tumors (angiogenesis), thus compromising its growth and viability, given that they die of starvation.

In addition to blocking receptors for vascular endothelial growth factor, and platelet-derived growth factor, it also acts on fibroblast growth factor receptors. This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor. ThemesCancer

Mayo Clinic - Male Breast Cancer and other breast issues (November 2022)