Breast cancer: men are also at risk!

Breast cancer is a mainly female disease, but it can also affect men. What are its characteristics and how does the life of those who suffer from it change? Our expert in General Surgery in Naples tells us about it , Dr. Raffaele Tortoriello

Dr. Tortoriello, is it true that breast cancer can also affect men?

The breast cancer in humans, and in the adult male, it is a disease which until recently was completely misunderstood, but today is beginning to be more and more present. Its incidence is certainly lower than in breast cancer in women (for whom it still represents the “big killer”): according to estimates, in fact, the percentage of interventions carried out at our National Cancer Institute G. Pascale in Naples is about 8-10% per year, that is to say that of 100 female cancers we find at least 8-10 male ones. This percentage seems low but it is not, especially if we think that up to a few years ago in humans it was a pathology that was not present at all.

Who are the people most at risk?

From the analysis we have done and from the data in our possession, it is a disease that almost always develops in quite old age (around 65-70 years) in patients who are still active from a physical and sexual point of view. These patients are often poly-treated, in the sense that they may be affected by hypertension or prostate diseases and that therefore they are treated with other types of drugs: a direct correlation has not yet been demonstrated, but several studies are underway to put evidence of a possible link between these factors.

What are the characteristics of these carcinomas in humans?

They are almost all infiltrating carcinomas and often, being obviously the anatomy of the man different from that of the woman, the infiltration is extended to the muscular level, therefore making a partial resection of the muscle necessary. Precisely because of the different anatomy between man and woman, this neoplasm can also present nipple infiltrations and must therefore be treated with total mastectomy with removal of the same. Furthermore, in almost all the interventions that we have performed in recent years (90-95% of cases) metastases to the axillary lymph nodes have been found .

What tests do you need to undergo and what does the therapy involve?

As for the woman, the reference tests for a correct diagnosis are:

  • Breast ultrasound;
  • Mammography ;
  • Biopsy or ultrasound-guided FNAB.

From the therapeutic point of view, on the other hand, the procedure is the same for both men and women: the patient will have to undergo radio or chemotherapy as needed.

What is the impact that this tumor has on the life of those who suffer from it?

It is a highly disabling pathology for men, as it is for women, because it does not allow you to carry out a normal life, it limits the movements of the upper limb and has a great visual impact given by the lack of the breast , with all the consequences psychological and social level.


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