font size

Male Breast Cancer (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

How is male breast cancer diagnosed?

Diagnosis of breast cancer requires identifying cancer cells in tissue specimens obtained by taking a sample of the growth - also called a "mass" or "tumor" - by the technique of biopsy. Since men have little breast tissue, cancers in male breasts are easily palpable (located by feel) and, therefore, are easily accessible to biopsy. Fine needle aspiration or needle biopsy of a suspicious mass can usually establish a diagnosis. A needle is inserted into the mass and tissue from the suspicious area is withdrawn. Microscopic examination of the tissue by a pathologist establishes the diagnosis.

Other techniques that may be used to diagnose breast cancer in men include incisional (removing a portion of the suspicious tissue) or excisional (removing the mass in its entirety) biopsy of a breast mass. If nipple discharge is present, microscopic examination of a smear of the discharge can sometimes establish the diagnosis.

Imaging studies such as X-rays, CAT scans (CT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and bone scans may be performed to evaluate the presence and extent of metastatic disease once the initial diagnosis of breast cancer has been made.

What is staging of male breast cancer?

Staging is carried out to determine the extent to which a cancer has spread within the body. Staging of breast cancer in men is carried out identically to the staging of breast cancer in women. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system takes into account the tumor size, lymph node involvement by cancer, and presence of metastasis:

  • T: tumor size and extent of local spread
  • N: extent of tumor involvement of lymph nodes in the axillary (underarm) region. Since the nipple area is rich in lymphatic vessels, male breast cancer commonly spreads via the lymphatic channels to the axillary lymph nodes. (When the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes, doctors sometimes use the term "lymph node-positive" cancer.)
  • M: presence of distant metastases (spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic vessels)

Stage 0

Stage 0 refers to intraductal carcinoma or ductal cancer in situ, in which the cancer cells have not spread beyond the boundaries of the ducts themselves.

Stage I

In Stage I breast cancer, the tumor is 2 cm or less in greatest diameter and has not spread to the lymph nodes or to other sites in the body.

Stage II

Stage II cancers are divided into two groups. Stage IIA cancer is either less than 2 cm in diameter with spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or the tumor is between 2 cm-5 cm but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes. Stage IIB tumors are either larger than 5 cm without spread to the lymph nodes or are between 2 cm-5 cm in size and have spread to the axillary lymph nodes.

Stage III

Stage III is considered to be locally advanced cancer. Stage IIIA means the tumor is smaller than 5 cm but has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, and the axillary lymph nodes are attached to each other or to other structures; or the tumor is greater than 5 cm in diameter with spread to the axillary lymph nodes, which may be attached to each other or to other structures. Stage IIIB tumors have spread to surrounding tissues such as skin, chest wall, or to the lymph nodes inside the chest wall.

Stage IV

Stage IV cancer refers to metastatic cancer, meaning it has spread to other parts of the body. With breast cancer, metastases (sites of tumor elsewhere in the body) are most often found in the bones, lungs, liver, or brain. Stage IV cancer is also diagnosed when the tumor can be found in the lymph nodes of the neck.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/12/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Male Breast Cancer - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your breast cancer (in men)?
Male Breast Cancer - Treatment Question: What was the treatment for your male breast cancer?
Male Breast Cancer - Experience Question: Please share your experience with male breast cancer.
Male Breast Cancer - Diagnosis Question: Please describe the events that led to a diagnosis of male breast cancer.
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/male_breast_cancer/article.htm

Breast Cancer

Find support and advances in treatment.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations