What is breast cancer in men?

Breast cancer in men is the same disease as that which affects women. Male breast cancer can be early or advanced at diagnosis.

  • Early breast cancer is cancer that is contained in the breast and may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes in the breast or armpit. Some cancer cells may have spread outside the breast and armpit area but cannot be detected. We do not know exactly how long breast cancer takes to develop, but it usually grows slowly. It can be several years before a lump or thickening can be felt, although there can be other symptoms of breast cancer.

  • Advanced or metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread outside the breast area to other parts of the body.

  • The types of breast cancer found in men are similar to those found in women. The most common breast cancer found in men is invasive ductal carcinoma. This cancer typically presents as a lump. It results from abnormal growth of the cells that line the ducts of the breast.

  • Paget’s disease of the nipple is a type of breast cancer that usually appears as a scaly red rash affecting the nipple and areola (the area around the nipple). Paget’s disease of the nipple is a rare form of breast cancer that begins in the ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and areola.

  • Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that causes the breast to appear swollen hot and red. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare in both men and women; however it tends to grow more quickly than other types of breast cancer.

  • Pre-invasive breast cancer is the name for abnormal cells or cancer cells that stay inside the ducts or lobules of the breast. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) are two types of pre-invasive breast cancer. DCIS and LCIS do not usually present as a lump but are usually detected during investigations for other breast disorders.