Worrying male breast cancer signs you could never ignore as hundreds diagnosed yearly

About one in 100 (about 1%) of breast cancer cases in the UK are in males, according to Cancer Research UK.

The health charity adds that there are some similarities between male breast cancer and female breast cancer, but that there are also some differences you should be aware of.

Dr Alexandra Haas, radiation oncologist at the leading cancer treatment facility Proton Therapy Center Prague, said: “Many people think breast cancer is a disease that only affects women, but hundreds of British men receive the devastating diagnosis each year.

“Unfortunately, many men overlook the symptoms and therefore get diagnosed and treated later than female patients.”

Risk factors for male breast cancer

Risk factors for male breast cancer include:

Exposure to ionising radiation: especially to the chest wall
Cryptorchidism – a condition in which one or both testicles fail to move from the abdomen, where they develop before birth, into the scrotum
Testicular injury
Increased levels of oestradiol (oestrogen hormone)
Klinefelter syndrome (when boys and men are born with an extra X chromosome)
Cirrhosis
Prostate cancer
Family history
Chest trauma
Age
Certain racial groups
BRCA2 gene mutation 2

“As with most types of cancer, early detection can be a lifesaver and it’s important that we know the warning signs associated with the disease,” adds Dr Haas.

“Men should be on alert for changes to the size or shape of the chest, small, painless lumps in the chest and armpit area and any signs of swelling in those areas, too.

“Other red flags include a sudden inversion of the nipple, a rash, bleeding or oozing from the nipple and a skin ulcer in the affected area.”

If you notice any of these changes to your body, it’s vital to seek help from your GP as soon as possible.

Symptoms of male breast cancer
According to the NHS, potential early warning signs of the disease may include:

A lump in the breast – this is usually hard, painless and does not move around within the breast
The nipple turning inwards
Fluid oozing from the nipple (nipple discharge), which may be streaked with blood
A sore or rash around the nipple that does not go away
The nipple or surrounding skin becoming hard, red or swollen
Small bumps in the armpit (swollen glands)
How is liver cirrhosis linked to male breast cancer?
In a study published in the National Library of Medicine, the risk of breast cancer in men with liver cirrhosis was analysed.

The research involved 11,642 Danish men who were hospitalised with cirrhosis (liver disease) and were followed up through a period of 4.3 years through record linkage for the possible occurrence of breast cancer.

“Cirrhosis, possibly via high levels of endogenous oestrogens, increases the risk of breast cancer in men,” noted the study.

It added: “Liver cirrhosis is associated with increased levels of oestrogens, which may be causally related to breast cancer.

“Because background oestrogen levels are lower in men than in women, an oestrogen-mediated link between liver cirrhosis and breast cancer would be easier to detect in men.”

Diagnosing male breast cancer

“It’s very unlikely you have cancer, but it’s best to get your symptoms checked,” says the NHS.

Your GP will examine your breast and can refer you for tests and scans for breast cancer if needed.

“If you do not have symptoms but have a clear family history of breast cancer, your GP may refer you to a genetic specialist to discuss your risk of getting it.

“There are some inherited genes that increase your risk of cancer, and a blood test can be done to check for these.”