Breast Cancer in Men: New Study Seeks to Discover the Causes

Recent research by Cancer Research UK has revealed the underlying causes of early signs of breast cancer in men are unknown.

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The CDC said that there are different stages of breast cancer for men, but most stages of the disease do not depend on sex. PHOTO via @CDC

KAMPALA | LIFESTYLE UGANDA ( — In a recent research study, new research carried out by Cancer Research UK has found that the underlying cause for the early signs of breast cancer in men remains a mystery

  • A new study aims to find out what causes breast cancer in men.
  • No medical treatments are available that can specifically target the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic.
  • In most cases, breast cancer in men is discovered late.
  • The CDC said that there are different stages of breast cancer for men.

In fact, the researchers identified nearly 800 genes that might help explain the mystery.

According to the Daily Mail, the study has been published in the medical journal Nature Genetics. The research focuses on the genetic changes that are associated with breast cancer in men. 

The scientists found that these changes were present in almost half of the 2,000 men studied who had suffered from breast cancer.

After studying the DNA of those men, the researchers discovered that there are a number of factors in men that might influence the development of this cancer.

“We found mutations in 875 of the 10,000 genes that we looked at, many of which were new. But it’s still unclear which ones might increase the risk of men getting breast cancer, or whether there’s an interaction between genes or other factors,” said Dr Nathalie Maitre from Cancer Research UK, Metro UK reports.

“The idea is to determine the best ways to screen men as early as possible to try to prevent a cancer diagnosis and to monitor them in case they do develop cancer,” said Dr Roy Perlis, who leads the National Cancer Institute’s breast cancer research.

The researchers found that the genetic changes in men are different to those in women and it is almost always the case that those who are diagnosed with breast cancer are women. 

Maitre added that “Women with breast cancer often carry one of these mutations, but men are rarely affected. However, the findings suggest that some of these mutations are detectable in the blood of men before they show any signs of cancer in their breasts.”

The researchers also found that in men, certain genes that are believed to play a role in prostate cancer could be more common.

However, according to Mail Online, in the study, scientists have not shown whether or not these genes might play a role in breast cancer. 

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Some of them may be the result of other common inherited diseases which also contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer.

“Our next step is to find out whether these men’s blood test results can predict if they will get breast cancer,” said Maitre.

She added that the researchers would need to look at other disease patterns as well. For example, men are more likely to develop bowel cancer than breast cancer and scientists also suspect that these two conditions might have a genetic link.

Maitre also warned that men who suffer from one of the disease changes in the genes might not develop breast cancer or any other type of cancer in the future. 

The scientists also do not know whether or not having one of these changes could cause the men to get cancer at a later stage.

However, she did confirm that all men who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past need to take a genetic test to help them detect other gene changes that may be associated with the disease.

“These findings suggest that some of the genetic changes that can cause this cancer in women could also cause it in men,” she concluded. 

“In future we plan to investigate whether these changes are linked to other common inherited diseases and how this might affect men’s chances of developing breast cancer in later life.”

However, at present, it is still unknown whether or not men who have these mutations in their DNA are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer

According to the Mail Online, Maitre stressed that the genetic change must be followed by confirmation of breast cancer in the future.

In the meantime, if men would like to know if they have a genetic mutation that could be linked to the development of breast cancer in the future, they can have a blood test that may help them detect it.

The test is called the “Know Your Genes” test and it is available from the UK and other parts of the world. The test provides them with an analysis of a person’s entire genome.

The Mail Online reports that the test is run in a lab and men can obtain the results within 20 minutes.

“People who have the test may need to wait to see if they are called by the doctor to discuss the test results. So it is best to book an appointment first,” added Maitre.

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The symptoms

  1. Breasts or armpits swollen or lumpy
  2. Pain or discomfort in the breast, armpit or chest area
  3. Nipple changes, for example, reduced in size or areola changes
  4. Nipple discharge that is tinged with blood or has red or white patches
  5. A lump or swelling in a breast that does not move
  6. A lump or swelling in a breast that moves
  7. Nipple discharge that is thick or white
  8. A lump in the armpit or underarm area
  9. Changes in the skin on the breast
  10. Nipple changes, for example, the nipple is flattened, hard, bent or inverted
  11. a lump in the neck (cancer in situ)
  12. Any other changes that do not fit the symptoms of breast cancer
  13. Existing or potential cancer in the lymph nodes in the armpit or chest area, which can be found by a mammogram

Treatment: what are the options?

There are currently no medical treatments available that can specifically target the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic alterations, but other treatments may be able to lower the risk of breast cancer in men.

Men who are diagnosed with breast cancer are still at a higher risk than women who may suffer the same life-threatening symptoms.

The cause of the increase in the risk of developing breast cancer in men is still not known, but it is believed that this could be the result of the decline in male hormone levels.

However, men can lower their risk of developing breast cancer by eating a healthy diet, staying active and making sure to get a full physical check-up when he is age 40 and above.

Studies have found that it may be possible to lower the risk of cancer in men by 50 per cent by following a healthy diet and doing regular physical activity. 

Staying away from tobacco products, maintaining a healthy weight and managing stress levels may also be helpful.

Proactive mammography screening is recommended for women who are over 40 years old with a close family history of breast cancer. Women with this risk may opt for having a genetic test to determine if they have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic alterations.

What are the male breast cancer stages?

According to the CDC, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with more than one million cases diagnosed each year. Men also suffer from it.

In most cases, breast cancer in men is discovered late. The CDC estimates that in the U.S. about 11 per cent of new breast cancer diagnoses are in men.

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The CDC said that there are different stages of breast cancer for men, but most stages of the disease do not depend on sex.

The stages of breast cancer for men according to the CDC are:

Stage 1 – lump/tumour found.

Stage 2 – mass or thickening that gets larger over time.

Stage 3 – solid mass that has undergone changes and is 3 cm (1.2 in) or larger in diameter.

Stage 4 – a tumour that is large enough to be felt in the armpit, underarm or between the breast and the collarbone.

Stage 5 – hematoma, which occurs in about 3 per cent of men, occurs when blood vessels in the skin are filled with abnormal lymphocytes.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

The three most common breast cancer symptoms in men are:

  • A lump or swelling in a breast
  • Wet, red or white discharge from the nipple
  • Nipple changes, for example, the nipple is flattened, hard, bent or inverted

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, make sure to visit a doctor right away.

The key to making sure you get the best treatment for breast cancer in men is to visit a doctor who can perform a breast cancer mammogram because treatment is the key to survival. 

mammogram is a special type of x-ray that allows a doctor to see if you have breast cancer and treat it as soon as possible, which increases your chances of survival.

This test is one of the most important tools in the fight against breast cancer.

Read more about the mammogram here.

Also in the health news: What is Vaginal Yeast Infection?, Vaginal Itching symptoms, Are Bitter Berries Good for You? And 16 ways to avoid a sinus infection.

Although we strive to provide accurate information about the risk of breast cancer in men, it is always possible to make an error. If you find any inaccurate or incomplete info, please comment below.

Musasi Isaac Christopher

An aspiring Lifestyle blogger who specializes in health, food and restaurant sectors. WhatsApp me on +256759100143.

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