Breast Cancer Treatment in Men
Breast cancer occurrence among men is rare compared to women. For men, the cause of breast cancer development is mainly attributed to particular genetic mutations. Breast cancer treatment for men in Israel is approached using the most advanced treatment techniques, such as hormone therapy at Herzliya Medical Center (HMC). Highly effective methods are used for breast cancer treatment that have proven successful.
Male breast Cancer
Breast Cancer in both men and women develops in the mammary glands. At puberty, the mammary glands increase in volume for females, whereas men undergo fewer changes. Although male breasts undergo fewer changes in structure, they contain the same system ducts connected with the nipple as women’s breasts and contain adipose tissue. Therefore, due to the composition of mammary gland and breast tissue, both male and female breasts maintain the capacity for tumors to form that may or may not be of cancerous origin.
Male Breast Cancer Types
- Infiltrating ductal carcinoma – a tumor that develops on the base of the breast (ductal epithelium). This is the most common form of breast cancer in men
- Lobular carcinoma - a tumor formed in the mammary-gland lobes. This form of cancer is rare in men
- Paget's disease - breast cancer that spreads to the nipple
Male Breast Cancer Risk Factors
The exact causes of breast cancer in men have not yet been determined. Breast cancer researchers have been investigating its causes, including cancer caused by genetic mutation of the specific BRCA2 gene, which encodes and synthesizes proteins regulating cell growth. A mutation of the BRCA2 gene that is accompanied by other physiological processes in the cell leads to malignant transformation and development of cancerous cells.
Cancer treatment in Israel incorporates genetic testing procedures in order to establish whether the cancer is hereditary. Genetic testing is highly recommended for men with breast cancer, as carriers of the genetic mutation may be passed on to their offspring. If the genetic mutation is inherited:
- Children (of carriers of the mutated gene) are at high-risk for developing breast cancer
- Carriers of the BRCA2 mutation are at high-risk for developing prostate cancer
Therefore, oncologists recommend seeking regular diagnostic checks and screening for these populations.
Other risk factors have been determined to for breast cancer. The most common breast cancer risk factors include the following:
- Age - 60 years and above
- Hormones – (prolonged) high levels of estrogen
- Klinefelter syndrome – a chromosomal condition
- Gynecomastia (enlargement of breasts)
- Exposure to ionizing radiation
- Cirrhosis – chronic scarring of the liver
Male Breast Cancer Symptoms
Male breast cancer is problematic, as it is usually diagnosed in its late stages as men have less breast tissue to either notice something suspicious or are unable to feel unusual lumps. Symptoms are similar to breast cancer in women and include:
- Lump formation in the chest area
- Redness of the skin in the chest area, appearance of holes or dimples, tuberosity, and/or rash
- Inversion (drawing inward) or appearance of nipple discharge
Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Early diagnosis and treatment of male breast cancer significantly increases the likelihood of positive prognosis. Therefore, people who experience the symptoms previously described should seek immediate medical attention. Seeking medical attention later, when symptoms have worsened, such as bleeding nipples are indicative of cancer spread, this stresses the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. Typically, the process of diagnostic examination includes the following:
- Inspection and testing by an oncologist
- Mammography - X-ray of the breast
- Ultrasound screening of the breast
- Biopsy – performed by retrieval of a tissue sample from present tumor in the breast for histopathological examination
Male Breast Cancer Treatment at HMC
The treatment of breast cancer in men is essentially no different from treatment typically carried out to treat breast cancer in women, although some procedures to treat breast cancer in men vary. Treatment options include:
- Surgery- most procedures involve modified forms of mastectomy, a process of resection of tissues and structures of the breast and by removing a portion of axillary lymph nodes that are likely to contain cancer cells.The specialist may remove one lymph node (where the tumor is most likely to spread), if no metastases is detected within a biopsy this is a positive sign that the cancer has not spread from its origin. Depending on the severity and stage of cancer, surgical treatment involves the removal of the tumor and surrounding breast tissue. In advanced cases, this may include the removal of breast tissue and surrounding lymph nodes (underarm).
- Radiotherapy - when breast cancer in men is detected, radiotherapy is facilitated using an appointed external beam radiation concentrated on the area (outside) the body and to kill cancer cells, although the focused radiation has been observed to remain present in the body after tumor removal. The intention of using focused radiation is to act upon affected muscles of the chest and axillary lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy - one of most common methods of cancer treatment in Israel performed. The intention is to destroy residual cancer cells and to prevent metastases (cancer spreading).
- Hormone therapy - for men, the most common cancer types have been determined hormone-dependent, or hormone-sensitive. Hormone-dependent cancers are known to develop through the process of hormone delivery through hormone receptors to cell membranes. These receptors then bind proteins with hormones and transport them to the cytoplasm of the cell. Hormone therapy has been a successful treatment used for hormone-dependent tumors. Certain hormone therapies successfully block receptors of cancer cells, therefore inhibiting cell growth. Since about 90% of breast cancer cases among men have been determined hormone-dependent; tamoxifen hormone therapy has proven to become an extremely effective tool for treatment.
Despite the relatively rare occurrence of breast cancer among men, oncologists at Herzliya Medical Center in Israel provide treatment to patients using the most modern and technologically advanced techniques for breast cancer treatment. Oncologists continue to emphasize the importance of early diagnosis and treatment in order for men with breast cancer to achieve the utmost success in breast cancer treatment in Israel.