Can Breast Cancer Occur in Men?


Did you know that for men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about one in 833? The American Cancer Society estimates in 2021, about 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in the U.S. and about 530 will die from breast cancer.

Male breast cancer is a rare disease that forms in the breast tissue of men. Although breast cancer occurs in men, the incidence is much less than in women. It is often detected at a more advanced stage, primarily due to most men not being aware that breast cancer may also affect them.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and Men’s Health Month in June serve as reminders to check your breast health.

What are the symptoms of male breast cancer?

The most common symptoms include:

  • A lump or thickening in the breast or underneath the armpit
  • Change in size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin on the breast
  • Nipple discharge with fluid leaking from the nipple
  • Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
Pictured is the morphology of a breast cancer as pathologists see it under a microscope.

Other conditions that may present similar symptoms:

  • Intraductal papillomas – A benign lesion that may appear as a wart-like lump that develops in the milk duct of the breast.
  • Gynecomastia – A bilateral enlargement of the breast that may reflect endocrine abnormalities related to estrogen metabolism or appear as a result of endocrine therapy for prostate cancer.
  • Metastatic tumors – Rarely do metastatic tumors from other sites in the body, such as the prostate, appear as a breast mass in older men.

What types of breast cancer are seen in men, and what are the treatment options?

The breast cancer types seen in men are of ductal origin and behave similarly to those that occur in women. The most common type of breast cancer in men is invasive ductal carcinoma, which starts in the milk duct and spreads to nearby breast tissues. It may also spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment options for men and women with breast cancer are similar and may include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer in men?

Some of the risk factors for the development of breast cancer include:

  • Age — male breast cancer is often diagnosed in older men, although it may occur in young men.
  • Carrying breast cancer genes
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • High levels of the hormone estrogen
  • Liver disease — cirrhosis of the liver may impair your estrogen metabolism, and higher serum estrogen levels may contribute to the development of breast cancer
  • Obesity

It’s important to know and understand your risks.

Please make an appointment with your health care provider if you notice any changes in your breast area that may be of concern.

Visit to meet our Breast Center specialists and learn more about our services.