Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among American women. Nearly 250,000 are diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But breast cancer isn’t exclusive to women.
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While it’s just 1% of all breast cancers in this country, the disease does occur in men.
“There are about 2,000 cases of male breast cancer diagnosed every year in the U.S.,” says Dr. Kathryn Ruddy, a Mayo Clinic medical oncologist. “Risk increases with age and with family history — so men who have either a known deleterious mutation in one of the cancer-predisposing genes, like BRCA, or men who have a lot of breast cancer in their family.
Most male breast cancer is diagnosed after a man feels a lump in the breast tissue, or has any pain or changes to the nipple, such as redness, dimpling or puckering, or a discharge.
“We don’t have screening mammography as part of our routine recommendations for men, so really it’s not until there’s a symptom that a man would be diagnosed — any change in the breast tissue, any change in the nipple,” says Dr. Ruddy.
Treatment for men is similar to women, including medication, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
“An abnormality in the breast or in the nipple is not something to ignore, and really is something that they should seek medical attention for and evaluation,” says Dr. Ruddy.
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