Breast cancer in males 2020
Breast cancer in males
The various cells making the breast in males, as well as females, are almost identical. However, the female breast has additional milk-producing glands and a different shape that makes it different from the male breast. We all know that cancer, especially breast cancer is commonly diagnosed in women and is very rarely found being diagnosed in men. As mentioned earlier, the breast tissue where cancer develops is pretty much the same. Cancer usually appears as a lump or mass that can be felt by touch or through a proper screening examination. Breast cancer in males, as well as females, can be easily treated only if the on-time diagnosis is done, followed by an effective treatment plan and patient care.
Breast tissue development
Males and females before puberty don’t have much of the breast tissue and very few lobules located near the nipple area. The hormonal changes in the females trigger the development of breast tissue and lobules throughout the breast. However, men develop a limited amount of breast tissue as growth is related to the presence of female hormones. Males have these female hormones but in a very scarce amount.
Breast cancer in males can appear anywhere within the breast. Still, the most common places include the nipple/areola area, behind the nipple, and within the lobules present in the breast. There are also cancers like sarcoma and lipoma that are deemed as benign. It means that they would not cause harm to the body as cancerous tumors do. It is important to understand the nature of the tumor. Malignant tumors require further evaluation as well as treatment while benign tumors do not cause changes in overall health and are not life-threatening.
The spread of breast cancer in males
In earlier stages of breast cancer, the tumor cells are restricted to the breast tissue. However, at later stages, the breast cancer tumor can easily break-free and travel to the lymph nodes. Later on, the cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body. Breast cancer in males spreads the same way into the lymph nodes as females.
The lymph nodes are a part of an interconnected network of lymphatic vessels and lymphatic fluid, collectively known as the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes can be understood as clusters of lymphatic cells that house immune defense cells which can identify and kill potentially dangerous substances, cells, or microscopic pathogens. The breast has a few lymph nodes embedded within the tissue. They connect and drain further into:
- Axillary lymph nodes present in the underarm region.
- Around the collar bone. Named as supraclavicular and infraclavicular lymph nodes.
- Mid-line of the chest where the lymph nodes are present deep within the tissue.
When the cancer spread occurs, lymph nodes get compromised at first. The more the cancer cells involve lymph nodes, the more is the possibility of breast cancer to spread to even distant organs within the body. Breast cancer in males involving the lymph nodes is evaluated the same way as women. Your oncologist will examine one or more lymph nodes after removing them surgically. This procedure is known as lymph node biopsy that helps healthcare professionals determine the cancer spread. This biopsy is necessary because the type of treatment, its duration, and all the patient management protocols depend on knowing how much cancer has spread.
There are a few other medical conditions that have symptoms similar to breast cancer. The most commonly confused disease is known as gynecomastia where the affected male feels a lump just behind the nipple. This unnecessary growth resembles a type of breast cancer named carcinoma in situ. This condition much more common than breast cancer in males. Yet, if any lump is identified, it is crucial to contact your doctor and proceed for further evaluation and probable treatment.
Gynecomastia is normally triggered by hormonal changes that could occur at teenage or even at old age. Problems with one’s liver can also disturb the balance of hormones, resulting in gynecomastia. Besides, being overweight or having unnecessary amounts of estrogen hormone influence this unique medical condition. Drugs for hypertension, heartburn, ulcers, and others also trigger gynecomastia.
Types of breast cancer in males
There are several types of breast cancer found in males. Some of these types do not affect health. Yet, some types could be life-threatening. Let’s have a look at the brief outline of the cancer types
Ductal carcinoma in situ
Also known as intraductal carcinoma, this type of breast cancer in males is considered non-invasive cancer. It means that the cancer cells are contained within a specific area in the breast and do not spread outside the breast. Ductal carcinoma in situ in most cases does not create health issues. However, 1 out of every 10 cases of this cancer can turn invasive, resulting in the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. Surgical removal is the best treatment for this type.
Lobular carcinoma in situ
As the name suggests, this cancer grows in the lobules of the breast a remain confined there, even if left untreated. This type is rarely diagnosed in men.
Some other types include invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, Paget’s disease, and inflammatory breast cancer. There are still a dozen more types of breast cancers, but most of them are very rarely reported in males. If you ever feel an unusual growth in the breast or feel like having a hard lump under the breast skin, immediately consult your doctor and let them know of your concern.
Breast Cancer Startups
There are some Health Startups making innovations on the Breast Cancer field. Are you interested to read about this? You can find on the following post: 9+ Best Breast Cancer Startups In The Healthcare Industry 2020