Understanding male breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

One of the most deadly forms of cancer in women, breast cancer, may also affect males. Approximately 0.5%-1% of all breast cancer cases are due to MBC. "This is a rare male cancer, but according to a new study, prevalence is continuously growing," says Dr Kunjal Patel, molecular oncopathologist, at Neuberg Centre for Genomic Centre.
The doctor notes that males often fail to notice breast lumps or swelling, leading to delayed breast cancer diagnosis. Disease of elderly age Dr Patel estimates that the danger starts at age 60 and steadily grows until it reaches its highest point between ages 70 and 75.
According to the doctor, we are in an "era of early intervention and precision medicine" and it is "important to understand the risk factors, prognosis, and early management of MBC." The doctor bases this claim on a survey conducted in the year 2020 by Goyal et.al, which found that roughly 81% of men from their cohort were unaware of the signs of MBC and what measures can be taken for early or timely detection.
What are the potential dangers?
According to Dr Patel, there are several risk factors. She states that "...lifestyle variables, occupational exposure to toxins, family history, and genetics" contribute to cancer risk.
In the majority of instances, MBC is associated with a cancer-positive family history, elevated oestrogen levels, advanced age, and specific chromosomal abnormalities such as Klinefelter syndrome. About 20% of men with breast cancer may inherit mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene or other high-risk genes, such as CHECK2, PTEN, or PALB2," the doctor explains, adding that men with a BRCA2 gene mutation have a higher risk (7 in 100) of developing breast cancer than men with a BRCA1 gene mutation (1 in 100).
In a short investigation by the NCGM, in a cohort of 20 men (14 afflicted and 6 unaffected/tested solely for BRCA1/2 genes), two were found to have BRCA1 mutations and two were found to have BRCA2 pathogenic mutations; all of them had a positive family history of cancer.
Men with breast cancer must get genetic counselling and testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 and other hereditary cancer-risk genes.
The doctor says, "Breast cancer screening is beneficial, particularly in families with a history of the disease. It is beneficial to have a diagnosis even before the onset of a disease, since it may slow the illness's progression and provide timely treatment."

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