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What are Male Breast Cancer Symptoms?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 December 2017
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Male breast cancer is not that common, and most men don’t think about male breast cancer symptoms because the occurrence of the illness is rare. Even though the condition only affects about 2,000 men in the US per year, it is still an important illness. Knowing the symptoms is additionally valuable because so many men don’t think to report early symptoms, and this makes them more likely to see their doctors when the cancer is at a more advanced stage. Obviously advanced stage cancer has greater risk of metastasizing or spreading to other parts of the body, and in end stages the disease may have progressed too much to be cured.

It might help to know which men are most likely to develop male breast cancer symptoms, and there are some fairly identifiable risk factors. First, most people who have this cancer develop it in the 60s-70s and they could have suffered at some point in life enlargement of the breast. This is often due to hormone treatment, but it can also be caused by conditions like Klinefelter’s syndrome. It may be the case that some men have higher estrogen levels than is normal in most men, and they have lower male hormones, which are called androgens. A strong history of female relatives with breast cancer might lead to increased risk of men developing the condition, too.

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Even without these risk factors, some men will get have male breast cancer symptoms and sometimes earlier than in their 60s. Usually the first symptom is a lump in one breast, and it is often located directly under the nipple. Performing a self-exam once a month or so can help men get familiar with how the chest feels (it’s often easiest to do this in the shower when the skin is wet). Sometimes a lump isn’t noticed but there is a spot on the breast that looks different. It might be wrinkled or have dimple that wasn’t there before. It could be covered with a rash or look red or scaly. Occasionally a nipple changes in appearance and begins to look inverted, or off center. The nipple could also seem to bleed from its center or have whitish discharge that easily comes out with squeezing.

These are all quite common male breast cancer symptoms and any one of them is a good reason to get to the doctor for an exam. Yet some men may still ignore them and they might over time develop other symptoms indicating spread of cancer, such as chronic aches and pains or a feeling like they have the flu. Weight loss that is rapid and unintentional can be a symptom, as can a feeling of ever-present fatigue.

Though this condition is rare, it is very important not to ignore male breast cancer symptoms. Just as for women, a self-exam each month is the best way to catch things early. If unclear how to do this, men should ask their doctors to show them how to do one. In absence of this advice, tips from a wife or close female relative can be useful.

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