Home News & Events News BLOG: Men. Are you breast cancer aware?

Men’s cancers and mental wellness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You may already know someone who has breast cancer – or who has had it – and that’s not surprising. Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the UK at some point during their lives – one in five of them before the age of 50.

Breast cancer in men

What you might not know is that breast cancer also affects men. Although it’s rarer, it’s estimated that about 350 men are also diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. So, whether you’re male or female, checking regularly for signs of breast cancer just might save your life.

Men have a small amount of breast tissue behind their nipples, and that’s where their cancer can start. It’s rare, affecting only about one in every 1000, but not so rare or unusual that men can afford to miss the symptoms.

Breast cancer is more common in older men, with age being one of the so-called risk factors. In fact, most breast cancers are diagnosed in men aged between 60 and 70. That’s later in life than for most women diagnosed with breast cancer.

And why is that? One reason is that men typically delay going to see their doctor until their symptoms become severe. And, of course, breast screening (mammogram) is routinely offered to women aged 50-71 in the UK.

So, what exactly are the symptoms of breast cancer?

A small hard lump

The symptoms of breast cancer in both men and women are similar – a lump in the breast is usually the first sign. In the case of men, it’s usually a hard but painless lump under the nipple. Breast cancer in men is invasive. That means it can spread to the lymphatic system that protects us from infection. It can cause swelling in the lymph nodes (or glands), typically in the armpits.

Many men know to check their testicles for lumps. They may not be as aware of checking their breasts, but it needs to be added to everyone’s ‘To Do’ list. That’s because, the earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances of a full recovery. And if you notice any of the symptoms, you should contact your GP (or dial 111 – the urgent medical helpline in the UK).

Other symptoms

As well as a lump under the nipple, and possibly a swelling/lump in the armpit, other symptoms may include:

  • An inverted nipple (one that turns in)
  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • A rash/redness on the nipple
  • A bloody discharge from the nipple
  • An ulcer on your chest
diagnostic staff at the rutherford

Treatments for breast cancer

Your doctor will be able to discuss your treatment options with you so that you can decide the best way forward.

Options include surgery to remove all the breast tissue, or just the cancerous area and a small additional section of tissue. If your cancer has spread, then this procedure may be combined with surgery to remove a swollen lymph node (or nodes) under the arm.

At your local Rutherford Cancer Centre, breast cancer patients are usually referred to us after their surgery. We treat breast cancers with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as targeted therapy, hormone therapy and bone therapy.

Find out more about how we can help patients through their diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer by calling our enquiries team on 0800 210 0402. Alternatively, send us a message and they will get back to you within 48 hours.


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