According to the American Cancer Society, a man’s risk of developing the disease is about one in a thousand—a speck of dust compared to the amount of women who are struggling with the condition. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important to educate yourself about the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of cancer.
Statistics published by Cancer Research UK shows that in the UK, around 55,350 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, 350 of which are men. Unlike women, whose biggest risk factor for developing the disease is the very fact that they are female—men are more likely to contract cancer due to old age. The National Cancer Institute says that breast cancer is more frequently diagnosed in men over the age of 60.
Other risk factors, as listed by the National Cancer Institute include:
- Family history: men who have a close male or female relative that has a history with breast cancer are more likely to get the disease and the risk increases with the number of close relatives that have been affected by cancer.
- Genetic predisposition: about 15% of male breast cancers are linked to an inherited mutation in the BRCA genes.
- Klinefelter syndrome: This is a very rare inherited genetic disorder that causes low levels of androgen and high levels of oestrogen—both of which are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Radiation exposure: previous exposure to radiation, particularly exposure in the chest.
- Cirrhosis of the liver: Liver damage from cirrhosis once again increases oestrogen levels and decreases androgens.
- Gynecomastia: An exaggerated breast development in men.
The institute also outlined other factors, including occupational exposure to exhaust and petrol fumes.
Similar to women, the most common sign of cancer is a painless lump near or under the nipple. Other symptoms that you should also watch out for are:
- Discharge or bleeding from the nipple
- Changes in your nipple, for example scaling or redness
- An open ulcer on the skin of the breast that does not heal
- An inverted nipple
- Pain or swelling in the breast
Late symptoms that occur at advanced stages of the disease include:
- Weight loss
- Bone pain
- Cough or shortness of breath