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Breast Cancer Not Just a Woman’s Disease

Tuesday, 13 Oct 2009 10:18 AM

Breast cancer affects more than 200,000 women each year, but a physician cautions that women aren’t the only ones at risk.
“Breast cancer is a disease that can affect men as well as women,” said Dr. Samir Kheiri, a hematologist and medical oncologist at Geisinger Medical Center. “While women are much more likely to develop breast cancer, men also have breast tissue that can develop cancerous cells.”
Breast cancer affects 2,000 men each year, Kheiri said, and nearly 25 percent of male cases are fatal.
Patients usually are between 60 and 70, and many have a family history of breast cancer or a genetic predisposition that puts them at risk. Exposure to radiation, high levels of estrogen and excessive use of alcohol are also factors that can increase a man’s risk of developing the disease.
“Developing breast cancer is not something most men think about, but if lumps appear in the chest region, specifically around the nipples, patients should consult with their physician,” Kheiri said.
Treatment options for men with breast cancer are similar to the treatments for women. Depending on the severity of the cancer, a partial mastectomy can be performed, along with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Many men need a full mastectomy, with a surgeon removing the entire breast and some lymph nodes that may spread under the armpit. Chest and arm muscles remain intact, allowing patients to retain functionality of the affected area.
“Treatment options differ from patient to patient, but lymph nodes under the breast and arm need to be eliminated in every case,” Kheiri said.
Although male breast cancer is rare, men should be aware that it can affect both men and women, Kheiri said.
“Being aware . . . can help men detect warning signs earlier,” Kheiri said. “This can lead to more effective treatments and an enhanced ability to combat the disease.”

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Breast cancer is a disease that affects more than 200,000 women each year, but a physician cautions that women aren’t the only ones at risk.
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