Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Select An Article

Breast Cancer in Men

Font Size

Even though men don't have breasts like women, they do have a small amount of breast tissue. The "breasts" of an adult man are similar to the breasts of a girl before puberty. In girls, this tissue grows and develops, but in men, it doesn't.

But because it is still breast tissue, men can get breast cancer. Men get the same types of breast cancers that women do, but cancers involving the parts that make and store milk are rare.

Recommended Related to Breast Cancer

Girl's Guide to Preventing, Avoiding, Treating, and Even Beating Cancer

By Ashley Ross and Sophie Banay Moura Cancer: The word alone can paralyze us. Instead of protecting ourselves, we resort to magical thinking—it won't happen to me. That's a mistake. Rates of the top five cancers in women 20 to 39—in order, they are breast, thyroid, melanoma, cervical, and colorectal—are rising. The good news: There's a lot you can do to prevent them. We talked to the country's top doctors and mined the latest research for Marie Claire's first-ever cancer crash course. Here, how...

Read the Girl's Guide to Preventing, Avoiding, Treating, and Even Beating Cancer article > >

Why Don't I Hear About Breast Cancer in Men as Much as I Hear About Breast Cancer in Women?

Even though men don't have breasts like women, they do have a small amount of breast tissue. The "breasts" of an adult man are similar to the breasts of a girl before puberty. In girls, this tissue grows and develops, but in men, it doesn't.

But because it is still breast tissue, men can get breast cancer. Men get the same types of breast cancers that women do, but cancers involving the parts that make and store milk are rare.

Which Men Are More Likely to Get Breast Cancer?

It is rare for a man under age 35 to get breast cancer. The chance of a man getting breast cancer goes up with age. Most breast cancers happen to men between the ages of 60 and 70. Other risk factors of male breast cancer include:

  • Breast cancer in a close female relative
  • History of radiation exposure of the chest
  • Enlargement of breasts (called gynecomastia) from drug or hormone treatments, or even some infections and poisons
  • Taking estrogen
  • A rare genetic condition called Klinefelter's syndrome
  • Severe liver disease (called cirrhosis)
  • Diseases of the testicles such as mumps orchitis, a testicular injury, or an undescended testicle

How Serious Is Breast Cancer in Men?

Doctors used to think that breast cancer in men was more severe than it was in women, but it now seems that it's about the same.

The major problem is that breast cancer in men is often diagnosed later than breast cancer in women. This may be because men are less likely to be suspicious of something strange in that area. Also, their small amount of breast tissue is harder to feel, making it harder to catch these cancers early. It also means tumors can spread more quickly to surrounding tissues.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW