Can men get breast cancer?: The answer is a resounding and unfortunate yes, when it comes tobreast cancer, men get breast cancer just like women, but because breast cancer occurs so predominantly in women it is not common to associate men with breast cancer. Currently, out of all the reported cases of breast cancer, men only account for about 1%. The reason is simple, men have some breast tissue just like women and a malignant tumor can start to spread (metastasize) or invade surrounding tissue from cells of the breast thus developing to breast cancer in men as is the case with women.
The human breast is made up mainly of lobules (glands that produce milk in women), ducts (the tubes used to carry the milk from the lobules to the nipple), and stroma (the tissue that surrounds the ducts, lobules, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels). When it comes to breast cancer men significantly under report because the disease is so uncommon that most men ignore obvious breast cancer symptoms and do not think anything about them until the more advanced stages, this means that although relatively fewer in number, breast cancer in men tend to require much more aggressive therapy.
Generally speaking until puberty, both boys and girls have a tiny amount of breast tissue consisting of a few ducts located under the nipple, once puberty sets in female hormones induce breast ducts to grow, lobules to form at the ends of ducts, and the amount of stroma to increase. In males the opposite effect is observed, male hormones restrict further growth of breast tissue.
Like any other cell in the body, men breast duct cells can undergo cancerous changes. But breast cancer in men is less common because their breast duct cells are less developed than those of women and breast growth-promoting effects of female hormones are absent.
Breast Cancer in Men and Lymph Nodes Cancer
Just like the situation with women, the lymphatic system is very important to the study and understanding of the ways that breast cancers can spread in men. This system generally has several parts, lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels.
Lymph nodes are a bean shaped group of immune system cells that are connected by lymphatic vessels. These Lymphatic vessels are tiny veins that carry a clear fluid called lymph away from the breast. TheLymph itself contains tissue fluid, waste products and immune system cells. When breast cancer cells enter the lymphatic vessels, the can start to metastasize and grow within lymph nodes.
Established research has demonstrated that if cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes. There is a higher chance that the cells could have gotten into the bloodstream and spread (metastasized) to other sites in the body. This is especially important to know when selecting treatment options. The higher the number of lymph nodes that contain breast cancer cells, the more likely it is that the cancer may be found in other organs as well. A note of caution, not all men with lymph nodes that contain cancer develop metastases, and in some cases men can have no cancer in lymph nodes but later develop metastases.
Benign breast disorders in men.
Gynecomastia: Gynecomastia is the most common male breast disorder. It is not a tumor but rather an increase in the amount of a man’s breast tissue. Men with gynecomastia have a button like or lump like growth under the nipple and areola. , which can be felt and sometimes seen. While gynecomastia is much more common than breast cancer in men, they both manifest as a growth under the nipple, this is why it’s important to have any such lumps checked by your doctor.
Gynecomastia is common among teenage boys due to changes in the balance of hormones in the body during adolescence. It is also common in older men due to changes in their hormone balance.
In rare cases, gynecomastia occurs because tumors or diseases of certain endocrine (hormone-producing) glands cause a man’s body to make more estrogen (the main female hormone). Men’s glands normally make some estrogen, but it is not enough to cause breast growth. Diseases of the liver, which is an important organ in male and female hormone metabolism, can change a man’s hormone balance and lead to gynecomastia. Obesity (being extremely overweight) can also cause higher levels of estrogens in men.
Some medicines can cause gynecomastia. These include some drugs used to treat ulcers and heartburn, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Men with gynecomastia should ask their doctors about whether any medicines they are taking might be causing this condition.
Klinefelter syndrome, a rare genetic condition, can lead to gynecomastia as well as increase a man’s risk of developing breast cancer.