What is breast cancer in men
Breast cancer is a disease in which the disordered multiplication of breast cells generates abnormal cells, forming a tumor. It is the type of cancer that most affects women in Brazil (excluding non-melanoma skin tumors) – and it can affect men as well, despite the very low incidence of up to 1% of all cases of the disease.
In numbers, this means that in 2020 there must have been about 662 diagnosis of breast cancer in men in Brazil, since the INCA (National Cancer Institute) estimate was 66,280 total new cases in the country.
Subtypes, symptoms and diagnosis of breast cancer in men
Breast cancer subtypes, symptoms and diagnosis of the disease (including its staging) are the same for men and women.
Because it is a rare disease in males, there is no cancer screening in men, such as routine mammography performed in women. The most common is that the tumor is discovered only when the patient has noticed the symptoms (such as pain, lump in the breast, unilateral increase in breast volume) and, consequently, has sought medical help.
An important difference from breast cancer in men is with regard to surgical treatment. As the male breast is small and the lumps appear behind the nipple, it is generally not possible to perform conservative surgeries, that is, to remove only part of the breast, as is the case with women.
The surgery for breast cancer in men is usually a total mastectomy: removal of the entire breast, with the areola and nipple also removed (always seeking to achieve free margins in the surgery). Axillary surgery (removal of one or more nodes in the armpit) must be performed at the same surgical time.
After that, treatments common to females follow, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal blockade, depending on the clinical stage of the disease and the characteristics of the tumor, in addition to the patient’s health conditions.
Cancer prevention in men follows the line of adopting healthy lifestyle habits recommended for women, avoiding smoking, consumption of alcoholic beverages and maintaining a routine of physical activities and healthy eating, which reduces the risk of disease development.