Male breast cancerJoin the Moobment
Around 390 men in the UK are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year. Many people are unaware that men can develop breast cancer because they don’t consider men to have breasts. In fact, both women and men have breast tissue and the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are similar for both.
A breast cancer diagnosis can be difficult to comprehend and come to terms with. It is often perceived as a women’s disease and much of the information and support available is aimed at women. It can be an incredibly confusing and isolating time. You may feel self-conscious about discussing your diagnosis with others and it may be that you don’t know anyone else who has gone through a similar experience.
Men, be chest aware
Most men don’t realise that they need to be chest aware but it is important to check yourself regularly. Should you notice anything unusual or are worried, make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible.
Symptoms of male breast cancer
Symptoms of breast cancer in men may include:
- A lump or swelling in the chest area or armpit
- Discharge from the nipple, which may be blood stained
- An inverted nipple
- Ulcers or scores on the chest or around the nipple
- A rash on or around the nipple
- Changed in the shape or size of the breast
Diagnosis of male breast cancer
If your GP suspects you might have breast cancer, they will refer you to a breast clinic. There, they will ask you about your symptoms and if you have any family history of breast cancer. They will examine the breast area as well as carrying out a number of tests. These may include an ultrasound, mammogram (x-ray of the breast area) and/or biopsy of the area. The results of these may be given to you on the same day, or in a follow-up appointment.
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, additional tests will be carried out to see if the cancer has spread.
Treatment of male breast cancer
Treatment will be the same as for female breast cancer. Your healthcare team will explain the options and the most appropriate treatment will be chosen depending on the nature of the cancer. Typical treatment can include any of the following:
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
For more information on the treatment of male breast cancer, visit Macmillan.org.uk
Support for male breast cancer
There is a wealth of useful information and support online. As well as talking to family and friends, you can talk to your breast cancer nurse or GP if you need support.
Breast Cancer Now offer their Someone Like Me service, and they will connect you with another man who has had breast cancer. There is Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Chat forum too. You can also check out #bluegetittoo, a campaign to raise awareness of male breast cancer. Other charities will also offer support services.
There are men who are brave enough to share their story. Richard Chilvers was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent much of his time raising awareness amongst men of the need to be chest aware. Read Richard’s breast cancer story.
Men’s Health Week 2020 sees Against Breast Cancer launch its first ever male breast cancer awareness campaign on social media to raise awareness of male breast cancer, encourage men to check themselves, provide a safe space for men to support each other and ultimately raise awareness of the importance of continued research to improve therapies for all breast cancer patients.
Join the Moobment, read real men’s stories, learn facts about male breast cancer and help us raise vital awareness and funds for better therapies for all breast cancer patients.
(Reviewed October 2020)