Male breast cancer is a rare diagnosis and it is the cancer which results from tumour/cancerous growth in the breast tissue of men. Cancer can affect an individual t any age but breast cancer is predominantly seen in older men. Cancer has a better prognosis and survival rate if it is detected at an early stage when it is not a very aggressive mode. Breast cancer is thought to be a women’s disease and men tend to ignore the related symptoms causing a delayed diagnosis at an advanced stage cancer.
Signs and symptoms of male breast cancer can include the usual breast cancer symptoms. Breast cancer is usually is presented with a lump or a mass which is firm and hard. This immovable mass with irregular edges can be felt in a breast examination. Also there may be swelling in the breast (whole or part), breasts may feel painful with reddening or scaling of skin of the breast. In some cases the nipple may turn inward with a nipple discharge. There also might be irritation or dimpling of the breast skin. These are the associated abnormal changes in the breast with cancer.
Initially a physical examination is done to examine the breasts and feel any sort of dense tissue or thickening or lump formation in the breasts, armpits, collar bone areas. This is to assess the size of lumps, their proximity to your skin and muscles this clinical breast exam is followed by a Mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breast tissue. In this test an image of the breast is taken by pressing flat the breasts as much as possible with two plastic plates of the machine.
This is followed by other imaging tests like ultrasound which uses sonic waves to create images of the abnormal tissue in the breast.
For a conclusive and accurate diagnosis a biopsy of the abnormal tissue is done. This involves using a needle to remove cells for testing. This needle is inserted in the breast tissue and tissue is withdrawn from the site for pathological examination under the microscope.
In case the results of the imaging tests are affirmative to presence of tumour, biopsy would be done by extracting cancerous cells from breast tissue for pathological examination. This will further grade the cancer advancement and prognosis. This biopsy can be of invasive or non invasive nature depending on the requirement.
It is very important to determine the extent of the cancer for a defined prognosis and treatment. This involves staging of the cancer to assess the invasion of the cancer cells, where all it has spread and the extent of damage to healthy tissue. This is done with the help of various tests including blood tests, imaging tests like computerized tomography also called CT scan. The stages are from Stage I, II, III to stage IV.