The signs of breast cancer include:
- Lump or thickening that does not go away or that changes.
- Swelling, puckering or dimpling of the breast
- Skin irritation
- Pain or tenderness of the nipple
The first symptom men usually notice is a painless lump. Other symptoms might include nipple discharge (possibly bloody), nipple retraction and skin ulceration.
For a variety of reasons, men may not get early treatment for breast cancer. Men are unlikely to regularly examine their breasts. When men notice symptoms, they tend to delay seeing a doctor. Men are usually somewhat older than women at the time of diagnosis (age 65 on average).
Causes and Risk Factors
For Breast Cancer in Women
- Being female (though rare cases appear in men)
- Over age 50 (75% of cases)
- Women whose mothers or sisters have had breast cancer
- Women who have never borne children
- Women who bore their first child after age 30
Recent research indicates that certain genes including BRCA1 appear to be genetically connected to an increased risk of breast cancer. Mutations or alterations of the BRCA1 gene increase the chances of developing breast cancer from 60 to 85%. Genetic screening can help determine whether a woman has the gene.
For Breast Cancer in Men
As with women, a man's risk of breast cancer increases with age. Other risk factors for male breast cancer include:
- Estrogen administration
- Hyperestrogenism-associated diseases (e.g., cirrhosis, Klinefelter's syndrome)
- Radiation exposure
- Testicular injury
- Mumps orchitis
- Family history of breast cancer (male or female)
- Families with the BRCA2 mutation on chromosome 13q
The causes and prevention of breast cancer are still unclear. The best protection is detection and treatment at the earliest stage of the disease.