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Breast Cancer Symptoms in Men

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 21, 2021

It’s rare, but men can get breast cancer, too. Guys have a small amount of breast tissue, and it’s possible for cancer cells to form in it.

Even though most men have low odds of getting the disease, you should be aware of the symptoms. That way you can talk to your doctor about any concerning signs, and they can do tests to find out if it’s breast cancer or something else.

What Are the Possible Symptoms?

The signs can include:

Lumps. Men with breast cancer usually have one or more. They might show up on your chest or under your armpit. They tend to be painless.

Breast changes. You might notice a difference in the size or shape of your breast area.

Skin changes. Parts of your breast may look:

  • Dimpled, sometimes resembling the texture of an orange peel
  • Puckered, meaning folded or wrinkled looking
  • Scaly, red, or swollen

Nipple problems. Your nipple may turn inward, or leak fluid that’s clear or bloody. The skin around it (areola) may also have redness, swelling, or scaling.

In general, breast cancer causes similar symptoms in men and women.

When Should You Call the Doctor?

Pick up the phone right away if you notice any of the signs above. If breast cancer is causing your symptoms, tests can help your doctor spot it early, improving your chances for successful treatment. Guys with the disease tend to get diagnosed when their cancer is in a later stage, which can make it harder to treat.

So, if you notice a lump in your breast or any other symptoms that concern you, don’t wait for them to go away on their own. Call your doctor, even if the possibility of having breast cancer makes you uncomfortable. There’s nothing to feel embarrassed about.

Let your doctor know if you have close relatives with breast cancer. It runs in families, so that could increase your odds.

But remember, having one or more of the symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. It’s not common for guys to get this disease, especially if you’re under 60. Overall, less than 1% of all breast cancer cases happen in men.

Other conditions could be to blame for your symptoms. Your doctor can find out for sure.

What Else Could It Be?

Several health issues can bring on symptoms that look like signs of breast cancer in men. Some of them are:

Gynecomastia. This is when your breast tissue gets larger or swells. It's usually due to a hormonal issue. It can also cause a lump to grow under your nipple.

Infections. These can lead to painful inflammation or pockets of pus (abscesses). You may also run a fever.

Lipoma. This is an oval-shaped lump that’s made of fat. It rarely brings on other symptoms.

Pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia (PASH). This noncancerous (benign) breast lesion can feel like a small lump. In some cases, it makes breasts larger.

Granular cell tumor. It’s usually benign, and it often shows up as a single, painless lump.

Jogger’s nipple. If you do a lot of exercise that makes your shirt rub against your chest, it can irritate your nipples and cause pain, redness, or bleeding. It’s more common when the weather’s hot and humid.

Mastitis. This means inflamed breast tissue. It can lead to redness, warmth, pain, and swelling. An infection can cause it.

Skin rash. These can show up anywhere on your body, including your chest. The affected skin can become tender, red, scaly, or itchy. Just a few of the things that can cause a rash are eczema, yeast infections, and hives.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: “Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms,” “Can Breast Cancer in Men Be Found Early?” “Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Men.”

National Cancer Institute: “Male Breast Cancer Treatment–Patient Version.”

UpToDate: “Breast Cancer in Men.”

MedlinePlus: “Male Breast Cancer.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Enlarged Male Breast Tissue (Gynecomastia),” “Breast Lumps,” “My Biopsy Shows I Have Pseudoangiomatous Stromal Hyperplasia (PASH) ― Now What?”

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences: “Granular cell tumor.”

Harvard: “Breast Disorders in Men.”

Mayo Clinic: “Mastitis,” “Breast Rash.”

Yale Medicine: “Breast Cancer in Men.”

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