Breast cancer in men: timely detection of alarm signals in the breast

Breast cancer in men: timely detection of alarm signals in the breast

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Breast cancer can also affect men

In Germany, around 70,000 women develop breast cancer every year. What many people do not know is that men are also diagnosed, especially at an advanced age. On the occasion of World Cancer Day, men are also advised to watch out for alarm signals in the chest.

According to the "ONKO Internet portal" of the German Cancer Society, between 600 and 700 men develop breast cancer, which is actually known as a female disease, every year. Because there are no breast cancer screening programs for men, they are usually diagnosed with the disease at a later stage than women. On the occasion of World Cancer Day on February 4, the Barmer health insurance company also advises men to watch out for alarm signals in the chest.

Different signs than women

“Unilateral, painless hardening in the breast is the most important sign of breast cancer in men. Clear or bloody fluid secretions, ingestion and small inflammations or non-healing wounds are also alarm signals that urgently need to be examined by a doctor, ”explains Dr. Ursula Marschall, chief medical officer at Barmer in a message.

According to the cancer information service of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), swollen lymph nodes in the armpit can be a further indication: in about half of the men, the armpit lymph nodes are affected when the diagnosis is made.

“But: Not every change means breast cancer. Men experience changes in their breasts over the course of their lives that are completely natural and benign, ”write the experts.

Men who suspect that something is wrong can first go to their family doctor, for example. If these can not invalidate the suspicion of cancer, one will be referred to a breast center or a similarly specialized clinic. The same examinations are then carried out there with ultrasound, mammography and, if necessary, a tissue sample as for women.

Origin of breast cancer

As stated in the Barmer Communication, breast cancer is fundamentally possible for both sexes, since every man also has a little bit of breast tissue and tendencies to milk ducts. According to Marshal, these are usually the origin of breast cancer.

A risk factor is an increased estrogen level, which can result from certain testicular diseases in childhood or very strong obesity. In addition, genetic factors, certain diseases such as diabetes, prostate cancer or hyperthyroidism and lifestyle could influence the risk.

Breast removal is often unavoidable

Because the man has much less breast tissue than the woman, the removal of the entire breast, including the papilla, is usually unavoidable in the case of a tumor.

According to the information, a breast-conserving intervention could only be possible with a relatively small tumor. This could be followed by radiation, chemotherapy or anti-hormonal treatment.

"The earlier breast cancer is recognized and treated, the greater the chances of a cure," says Marschall. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Barmer: World Cancer Day February 4th Breast cancer can also affect men, (accessed: February 3, 2020), Barmer
  • German Cancer Society: Breast Cancer in Men, (accessed: 03.02.2020), ONKO Internet portal
  • Cancer information service of the German Cancer Research Center: Breast cancer in men, (accessed: 03.02.2020),

Video: How to Identify the Symptoms of Male Breast Cancer. Dana-FarberBrigham and Womens Cancer Center (January 2023).