Features Health

Breast cancer in men

BREAST cancer is a condition that is almost always associated with women, while it is rare, breast cancer can happen in men.
This condition in men accounts for about one percent of all breast cancers.
Men have a small amount of breast tissue that cannot produce milk; this tissue is usually found behind the nipple. As with most cancers, the exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, but several risk factors have been associated with the development of breast cancer in men; exposure to radiation, especially after radiation therapy to treat another cancer. High levels of the female hormone oestrogen, that may occur naturally, be brought on by tumours, obesity and in some cases caused by medication. Klienfelter’s syndrome in men is an inherited condition in which the male inherit an extra chromosome from their mother, patients produce large levels of oestrogen and grow breast tissue. They usually have little facial hair and small testes that cannot produce sperm. Liver cirrhosis from chronic alcohol abuse also increases risks of breast cancer. A family history of several female relatives with breast cancer also increases risk.
The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless mass found just under the nipple. There may be skin changes around the nipple, the same that occur in women; bloody discharge, skin puckering, ulceration, dimpling, redness and retraction (turning inwards) of the nipple.
If the cancer has spread (metastasised) to other parts of the body, the local effects of the tumour will be manifest. Advanced cancer usually manifests with weakness and weight loss.
All cancers are staged to see the extent of the spread of the cancer. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) uses a system that takes into consideration the size of the tumour, the lymph nodes involved and the presence of any metastasis. It is there staged from Stage 0 to Stage IV. If detected early enough it is possible to treat and cure breast cancer. The most common form of treatment is chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy. Hormone therapy is used to block oestrogen from affecting the cancer cells. There is a form of targeted therapy that affects certain components in the body and blood that are associated with the breast cancer.
The earlier the cancer is detected, the better the cure and survival rates are. Listen to your body, if you feel there is something wrong; see your health care provider.
For more information on breast cancer in men email 990health@champ.org.zm

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