Male breast cancer

Lancet. 2006 Feb 18;367(9510):595-604. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68226-3.


Occurrence of male breast cancer, a rare disease, peaks at age 71 years. Familial cases usually have BRCA2 rather than BRCA1 mutations. Occupational risks include high temperature environments and exhaust fumes, but electromagnetic fields have not been implicated. Hyperoestrogenisation resulting from Klinefelter's, gonadal dysfunction, obesity, or excess alcohol, all increase risk as does exposure to radiation, whereas gynaecomastia does not. Presentation is usually a lump or nipple inversion, but is often late, with more than 40% of individuals having stage III or IV disease. Most tumours are ductal and 10% are ductal carcinoma in situ. Surgery is usually mastectomy with axillary clearance or sentinel node biopsy. Indications for radiotherapy, by stage, are similar to female breast cancer. Because 90% of tumours are oestrogen-receptor-positive, tamoxifen is standard adjuvant therapy, but some individuals could also benefit from chemotherapy. Hormonal therapy is the main treatment for metastatic disease, but chemotherapy can also provide palliation. National initiatives are increasingly needed to improve information and support for male breast cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male* / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male* / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammography
  • Obesity / complications
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Risk Factors


  • Prolactin