The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Breast Cancer Screening for Men at Higher Risk

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen (less than one percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S.) [65].

Breast cancer screening is not recommended for most men. It’s only recommended for some men at increased risk of breast cancer due to a BRCA2 or BRCA1 inherited gene mutation [145].

Learn more about BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutations in men.

Breast cancer screening for men with a BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutation

Men who have a BRCA2 inherited gene mutation, and to a lesser degree men who have a BRCA1 mutation, have an increased risk of breast cancer [66-67,144-145]. For these men, screening may help find breast cancer early, when the chances of survival are highest.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends men who have a BRCA2 or BRCA1 inherited gene mutation get breast cancer screening.

Starting at 35, these men should [145]:

Men who have a BRCA1/2 gene mutation should also be aware of the warning signs of breast cancer.

Men with a BRCA1/2 mutation who also have gynecomastia, should consider getting a mammogram every year, starting 10 years before the earliest known breast cancer in a male family member or at age 50 (whichever age comes first). Gynecomastia is an enlargement of the breast caused by a hormone imbalance in the body. It’s a benign breast condition, but it may increase the risk of breast cancer in men [146-148].

Learn about genetic testing for BRCA1/2 gene mutations.

Learn more about BRCA1/2 gene mutations in men.

Learn about treatment for breast cancer in men.

 52805-2.gifFor a summary of research studies on BRCA2 mutations and breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section

 

Family members of those who have a BRCA1/2 gene mutation

A man can inherit a BRCA2 or BRCA1 gene mutation from his mother or father. And, a man who has a BRCA1/2 mutation can pass the mutation on to his daughters and sons.

The NCCN encourages people who have a first-degree relative with a BRCA1/2 gene mutation, but have not been tested themselves, to consider genetic testing and talk with their health care providers about breast cancer screening [144-145]. First degree relatives include your mother, father, sisters, brothers and children.

Men found to have a BRCA1/2 mutation should get screening for breast cancer and screening for other cancers.

Screening for other types of cancer in men with BRCA1/2 gene mutations

Men with BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutations also have an increased risk of prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and melanoma (BRCA2 mutations only) [67,145].

The NCCN recommends men with a BRCA1/2 gene mutation get prostate cancer screening.

Learn about screening for prostate cancer for men with BRCA1/2 gene mutations.

Learn more about BRCA1/2 gene mutations in men.

Family history of breast cancer and breast cancer risk in men

Men who have a strong family history of breast cancer, such as mother and/or sister diagnosed at age 40 or younger, have a higher than average risk of breast cancer [145].

If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk with your provider about whether genetic counseling and genetic testing may be right for you.

Learn more about family history of breast cancer and breast cancer risk.

Learn more about genetic counseling and genetic testing

Warning signs of breast cancer in men

The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump [68].

However, any change in the breast, chest area or nipple can be a warning sign of breast cancer in men, including [68-69]:

  • Lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast, chest or underarm area (usually painless, but may be tender)
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin of the breast
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of the nipple (inverted nipple) or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge (rare)

These symptoms may also be signs of a benign breast condition.

Men tend to have much less breast tissue compared to women. So, some of these signs can be easier to notice in men than in women.

If you notice any of these signs or other changes in your breast or nipple, see a health care provider right away.

Learn about benign breast conditions in men.

Clinical trials of screening for men who have BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutations

Men who have a BRCA1/2 inherited gene mutation are encouraged to join a clinical trial looking at new screening methods or more frequent screening for men at higher risk of breast cancer [144-145].

Susan G. Komen® Breast Care Helpline

If you or a loved one needs information or resources about clinical trials, call the Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877- 465- 6636) or email clinicaltrialinfo@komen.org.

BreastCancerTrials.org in collaboration with Susan G. Komen® offers a custom matching service to help you find clinical trials on breast cancer screening.

Learn more about clinical trials.

SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES

  • If you or a loved one needs more information about breast health or breast cancer, call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636). All calls are answered by a trained specialist or oncology social worker in English and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. You can also email the helpline at helpline@komen.org.
  • We offer an online support community through our closed Facebook Group – Komen Breast Cancer group. The Facebook group provides a place where those with a connection to breast cancer can discuss each other’s experiences and build strong relationships to provide support to each other. Visit Facebook and search for “Komen Breast Cancer group” to request to join the closed group.
  • Our fact sheets, booklets and other education materials offer additional information. 

 

Updated 12/31/20

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