Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Diagnosing male breast cancer

Your doctor may conduct a number of diagnostic tests and procedures, such as:

  • Clinical breast exam. The doctor uses his or her fingertips to examine your breasts and surrounding areas for lumps or other changes. Your doctor assesses how large the lumps are, how they feel, and how close they are to your skin and muscles.
  • Imaging tests. Mammogram and ultrasound can detect suspicious masses in your breast tissue.
  • Biopsy. A fine needle is inserted into the breast to remove tissue for analysis in the laboratory. Test results can reveal whether you have breast cancer and if so, the type of breast cancer you have.

Determining the extent of the cancer

Determining the extent (stage) of your cancer helps your doctor evaluate treatment options. Biopsy, blood tests and imaging tests can be used to stage male breast cancer.

The stages of male breast cancer are:

  • Stage I. The tumor is no more than 2 centimeters (cm) in diameter (about 3/4 inch) and hasn't spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage II. The tumor may be up to 5 cm (about 2 inches) in diameter and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. Or the tumor may be larger than 5 cm but no cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes.
  • Stage III. The tumor may be larger than 5 cm (about 2 inches) in diameter and may involve several nearby lymph nodes. Lymph nodes above the collarbone may also contain cancer cells.
  • Stage IV. Cancer at this stage has spread beyond the breast to distant areas, such as the bone, brain, liver or lungs.
Feb. 17, 2015