Often people think breast cancer only attacks women, but the reality is not that simple. Breast cancer in men is also a possibility. What actually causes it? How can we recognize the symptoms and know the treatment options available? Check out the explanation below.
Causes of Breast Cancer in Men
Regarding the causes of breast cancer in men, there is still no definite explanation. However, experts suspect that around 5-10% of breast cancer cases are related to gene mutations, both hereditary and those that appear later in life. Apart from that, there are several factors that can increase a man's risk of developing breast cancer:
- Age: The risk of breast cancer tends to increase with age. This condition is often detected at ages over 50 years.
- Family History: Men who have close family members who have had breast cancer have a higher risk of developing this disease.
- Hormone Therapy: Having had hormone therapy, especially estrogen-containing drugs used to treat prostate cancer, can increase the risk of breast cancer in men.
- Congenital Abnormalities: Some genetic disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome or conditions where the testicles do not descend into the scrotum can increase the risk.
- Liver Disease: Liver cirrhosis can alter hormone levels in men, increasing estrogen levels, and therefore, increasing the risk of breast cancer.
- Overweight or Obesity: Men who are older, overweight, or obese have a higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to men who are of normal weight.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men
Symptoms of breast cancer in men are often similar to those experienced by women, including:
1. Lumps or Thickening in the Breast
If you feel a lump or hardened area in your breast, you should get it checked immediately. Lumps that indicate breast cancer in men usually do not cause pain, although in some cases, pain can occur.
2. Changes in Breast Skin
Changes in the skin that include redness, scaling, dimpling, or pulling in can also indicate symptoms of breast cancer.
3. Changes in Nipples
Breast cancer can also affect the appearance of the nipple, such as redness, scalyness, or inversion.
4. Fluid comes out of the nipple
If there is fluid, whether blood or white fluid similar to milk, coming out of the nipple, you should be wary of this.
5. Enlarged Lymph Nodes
Breast cancer sometimes spreads to the lymph nodes in the armpit or around the collarbone, causing a lump or swelling in the area. These symptoms can appear even before the tumor grows large enough to be clearly felt.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast Cancer in Men
The process of recognizing breast cancer in men is similar to the approach used in women. The medical team will gather information through questions and carry out a physical examination, especially focusing on the breast, chest and armpit areas.
Additionally, some additional tests, such as mammography, CT scan, and biopsy, may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. The following are several approaches to treating breast cancer in men:
The aim of the operation is to remove cancer tissue. If the cancer has spread and damage surrounding tissue, the doctor will remove the affected breast tissue.
Radiotherapy, which uses safe X-rays, can be used as a sole or supportive treatment in combination with other measures such as surgery and chemotherapy. This aims to kill cancer cells that may still be in the breasts, chest muscles and armpits.
3. Hormone Therapy
In cases where male breast cancer is associated with high levels of the hormone estrogen, hormone therapy may be recommended to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells. Tamoxifen is one of the drugs that is often used.
Chemotherapy involves administering anticancer drugs, either via tablets or injections. The goal is to destroy breast cancer cells and prevent their recurrence.
Signs of breast cancer in men often go unnoticed, resulting in late diagnosis. Therefore, it is very important to maintain awareness of changes in your breasts, so that this cancer can be detected early. In addition, maintaining general health, reducing alcohol consumption, and exercising regularly are steps to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in men.