Most people believe that breast cancer can only happen to women, but it is not. Men can also be victims, which is why it is important to diagnose early.
A 70-year-old man was diagnosed with breast cancer in New Delhi recently, dispelling the myth that the disease is only found in women.
According to reports, the patient underwent a modified radical mastectomy in September this year and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. He is responding well to treatment again, just as the doctor suggested.
Breast cancer is most common in women, but men can also get it. Most people do not realize that men have breast cancer and that they can get breast cancer. Cells in almost any part of the body can become cancerous and can spread to other areas.
Breast cancer begins when cells in the breast begin to grow abnormally. These cells usually form a tumor that is rarely seen on x-rays or that resembles a lump. A tumor is dangerous (cancer) when cells can grow and (attack) surrounding tissue or spread (metastasize) to distant parts of the body.
To learn more about how cancer begins and spreads, see Cancer Basics.
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Male breast tissue
Up to the point of puberty (on average between the ages of 9 or 10), young boys and girls have a small amount of breast tissue that includes a few channels located below the nipple and the areola (area around the nipple). During puberty, a girl’s ovaries produce female hormones, causing the mammary glands to grow and form lobules at the end of the canal. Even after puberty, both males and females often have lower levels of female hormones, and breast tissue is less likely to grow. Men’s breast tissue has tubes, but only a few if there are lobules. image showing a male breast formation that includes the area of the groin, areola, nipple, collecting ducts, fatty connective tissue and lobules.
Where breast cancer starts
Breast cancer can start in different parts of the breast. Most breast cancers start in the milk ducts (tube cancer). Some start in the glands that make up breast milk (lobular cancer). Men with these tendons and glands, too, though rarely work. There are also types of breast cancer that start in other types of breast cells, but these are rare.
A small amount of cancer starts in other tissues in the breast. These cancers are called sarcomas and lymphomas and are not really thought of as breast cancer.
Although many types of breast cancer can cause a lump in the breast, not all of them do. There are other signs of breast cancer that you should look for and report to a healthcare provider.
It is also important to understand that most breast lumps are harmless and not cancer (dangerous). Malignant tumors grow abnormally, but do not spread outside the breast and do not endanger life. Any breast lump or change needs to be evaluated by a health care provider to determine if it is safe or harmful (cancer) and whether it could contribute to your future cancer risk.
How breast cancer spreads
Breast cancer can spread when cancer cells enter the bloodstream or the lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
The lymph system is a network of lymph (or lymphatic) vessels found throughout the body. Lymph vessels carry lymph fluid and connect lymph nodes. Small lymph nodes, bean-shaped clusters of immune cells. The lymph nodes are similar to the small arteries, except that they carry a clear fluid called lymph (instead of blood) from the breast. Lymph contains tissue fluid and waste products, as well as immune cells. Breast cancer cells can enter the lymph nodes and begin to grow in the lymph nodes. Most breast lymph nodes lead to:
Lymph nodes under the arm (axillary nodes)
Lymph nodes around the collar bone (supraclavicular [above the collar bone] and infraclavicular [below the collar bone] lymph nodes)
Lymph nodes within the chest near the thoracic bone (internal mammary lymph nodes)
Illustration showing lymph nodes in the male breast including supraclavicular, infraclavicular, axillary and internal mammary lymph nodes
If cancer cells have spread to your lymph nodes, there is a good chance that the cells will re-enter the lymph system and spread (metastasized) to other parts of your body. The more lymph nodes there are breast cancer cells, the more likely it is that the cancer will be found in other organs. Because of this, getting cancer in one or more lymph nodes often has an impact on your treatment plan. Generally, surgery to remove one or more lymph nodes will be needed to determine if the cancer has spread.
However, not all men with cancer cells in their lymph nodes develop metastases in some areas, and some men may not be able to have cancer cells in the lymph nodes and later develop metastases.
Good chest conditions
Men can have serious breast problems (not cancer).
Gynecomastia is the most common male breast infection. It is not a tumor but rather an enlargement of a man’s breast tissue. Usually, men have breast tissue too small to feel or be recognized. Gynecomastia can appear as button-like or disc-growth under the nipple and areola (black circle around the nipple), which can be felt and sometimes seen. Some men have severe gynecomastia and may appear to have small breasts. Although gynecomastia is more common than breast cancer in men, both of which may sound like growth under the nipple, which is why it is important to have any such lumps checked by your doctor.
Gynecomastia is common among young boys because the hormonal balance in the body changes during puberty. It is also common in older men due to changes in hormone balance.
In rare cases, gynecomastia occurs because tumors or diseases of certain endocrine glands (which produce hormones) cause the human body to produce more estrogen (the main female hormone). Men’s glands usually produce some estrogen, but they are not enough to cause breast growth. Liver disease, an important component of male and female hormone metabolism, can alter human hormone balance and lead to gynecomastia. Obesity (obesity) can also cause high levels of estrogen in men.
Some medicines can cause gynecomastia. These include other drugs used to treat ulcers and heartburn, high blood pressure, heart failure, and mood swings. Men with gynecomastia should ask their doctors if they are taking any medications that may cause the condition.