To determine your male breast cancer treatment options, your doctor considers your cancer's stage, your overall health and your preferences. Male breast cancer treatment often involves surgery and may also include other treatments.
The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and surrounding breast tissue. The procedures include:
- Removal of breast tissue and surrounding lymph nodes (modified radical mastectomy). The surgeon removes all of your breast tissue, including the nipple and areola, and some underarm lymph nodes.
- Removal of one lymph node for testing (sentinel lymph node biopsy). The doctor identifies the lymph node most likely to be the first place your cancer cells would spread. That lymph node is removed and analyzed. If no cancer cells are found, there is a good chance that your breast cancer hasn't spread beyond your breast tissue.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. In male breast cancer, radiation therapy may be used after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells in the breast, chest muscles or armpit.
During radiation therapy, radiation comes from a large machine that moves around your body, directing the energy beams to precise points on your chest.
Chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancer cells. These medications may be administered through a vein in your arm (intravenously), in pill form or by both methods.
Your doctor might recommend chemotherapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might have spread outside your breast. Chemotherapy may also be an option for men with advanced breast cancer.
Most men with male breast cancer have tumors that rely on hormones to grow (hormone-sensitive). If your cancer is hormone-sensitive, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy.
Hormone therapy for male breast cancer often involves the medication tamoxifen, which is also used for women. Other hormone therapy medications used in women with breast cancer haven't been shown to be effective for men.
Feb. 17, 2015
- Ruddy KJ, et al. Male breast cancer: Risk factors, biology, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. Annals of Oncology. 2013;24:1343.
- Cameron JL, et al. Current Surgical Therapy. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 17, 2014.
- Gradishar WJ. Breast cancer in men. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 17, 2014.
- Chavez-Macgregor M, et al. Male breast cancer according to tumor subtype and race: A population-based study. Cancer. 2013;119:1611.
- Male breast cancer treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/malebreast/patient. Accessed Nov. 19, 2014.
- Patten DK, et al. New approaches in the management of male breast cancer. Clinical Breast Cancer. 2013;13:309.
- Distress management. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Sept. 17, 2014.
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