Oct. 26--CORSICANA -- Though it's significantly less common in men than women,
breast cancer is not exclusive to women. That may surprise many men, who may not
realize that they have breast tissue that can be susceptible to breast cancer
just like their female counterparts.
The likelihood of a man developing breast cancer remains quite slim, as the
American Cancer Society noted that they expected roughly 2,200 new cases of
invasive breast cancer diagnoses in men in 2013. But the relative rarity of male
breast cancer cases does not mean it's something men should take lightly, as a
breast cancer diagnosis can be just as deadly for men as it can for women.
Though male breast cancer prevention can be difficult because of the uncertainty
surrounding the cause of the disease, men who understand the risk factors are in
a better position to handle a diagnosis than those who don't.
--Age: Age plays a role in many cancer diagnoses, and male breast cancer is no
exception. According to the ACS, the average age a male is diagnosed with breast
cancer is 68, and a man's risk increases as he ages.
--Alcohol and liver disease: Heavy alcohol consumption increases a man's risk
for breast cancer, and this can be connected to liver disease, which is another
risk factor for male breast cancer. Heavy alcohol consumption can make men more
likely to develop liver disease, including cirrhosis. Men with severe liver
disease tend to have high estrogen levels because the liver finds it more
difficult to control hormonal activity. Higher estrogen levels have been linked
to breast cancer risk for men and women alike.
--Family history: Just like age, family history can increase a man's risk for
various cancers, including breast cancer. The ACS notes that roughly 20 percent
of men with breast cancer have close male and female blood relatives who also
have or have had the disease.
--Inherited gene mutations: Gene mutations greatly increase a woman's risk of
developing breast cancer, and they can be risky for men as well. Men with a
mutation in the BRCA2 gene have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 6
percent. A mutated BRCA1 gene also can increase a man's risk of breast cancer
but not as significantly as a mutated BRCA2 gene. Mutations in these genes are
most often found in families with significant histories of breast and/or ovarian
cancer. But even men with no such family history can have the gene mutations
associated with breast cancer. Mutations in the CHEK2 and PTEN genes can also
increase a man's risk for breast cancer.
--Klinefelter syndrome: A congenital condition affecting roughly one in 1,000
men, Klinefelter syndrome occurs when a man's chromosome count is abnormal. A
typical male body has cells with a single X chromosome and a single Y
chromosome, but men with Klinefelter syndrome have cells with a Y chromosome and
at least two and as many as four X chromosomes. Men with Klinefelter syndrome
are often infertile, and, when compared to other men, they have more female
hormones than male hormones. Though Klinefelter syndrome is so rare that it's
hard to study, some studies have found that men with this condition are more
likely to develop breast cancer than other men.
--Obesity: Recent studies have begun to show that women who are obese have a
greater risk of developing breast cancer, and researchers feel obesity poses a
similar threat to men. That's because fat cells in the body convert male
hormones into female hormones, which means obese men will have higher estrogen
levels than men who are not obese.
--Radiation exposure: Men who have undergone radiation treatment in their chest
area have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who have not.
Lymphoma treatments may require radiation treatment to the chest, so men who
have been diagnosed with lymphoma might be at a heightened risk of breast
While the overwhelming majority of breast cancer patients are female, men should
know they aren't immune to this potentially deadly disease.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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