Male Breast cancer fact sheet
Published 05/12/2012 | 06:00
Do men have breasts?
It is only with the onset of puberty that the breasts of girls and boys begin to radically differ. Female hormones cause the breasts of teenage girls to grow, and milk-producing glands or lobes are formed at the end of the ducts.
In boys, male hormones stop breasts from growing and lobules are not properly formed as there is no requirement for milk production. But men still retain breast tissue.
Are some men more at risk?
While not fully understood, being obese appears to increase the risk of male breast cancer, especially over 35 years of age. Family history and prolonged exposure to radiation also increase the likelihood.
However, men suffering from the rare genetic condition known as Klinefelter's syndrome, where they are born with an extra female chromosome, are 20 times more susceptible than the average male.
What are the symptoms?
Painless lumps in the breast, nipple discharge, tender or inverted nipples, swelling of the breast or swelling of the lymph glands under the arm are common signs.
However, because male breast cancer is rare, many men tend to ignore the symptoms and put off seeing their GP.
Like all forms of cancer, the earlier breast cancer is treated the better, so it is important to get any symptoms checked out as soon as possible.
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