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Breast cancer risks: Not just a lady's concern

Apr 27, 2012, 8:40 a.m.

While many women are aware of the need to check themselves for signs of breast cancer and get regular medical screenings, most men would never think of this deadly ailment as a threat to male health. But breast cancer can and does occur in men as well, especially in seniors aged 65 or older. Let us look at the risk factors, diagnostic methods and treatments for male breast cancer.

A variety of biological and environmental factors can influence whether someone falls into the approximately 1 percent of men who develop breast cancer. According to WebMD, breast cancer risk factors for men include age, treatments for other cancers that employed radiation or estrogen therapy, and previous bouts of liver disease or testicular cancer. In some cases, however, genetic predisposition is the culprit. Genetic mutations, a family history of the disease, or a chromosomal disorder called Klinefelter syndrome all merit a complete breast cancer risk assessment.

Men who develop breast cancer have one notable disadvantage -- the lack of regular screenings that play such a standard part of modern medical care for women. Women are also better versed in how to check themselves for telltale thickenings or lumps that may indicate a tumor. A discharge from the nipple can also serve as a warning sign for men and women alike. These lumps are usually painless, so by the time one is detected manually it may have had a chance to metastasize.

A man who has any sings of possible breast cancer should have a biopsy performed to confirm the diagnosis before proceeding to the most common treatment, a mastectomy. (According to Jet Magazine, talk-show host Montel Williams had a double mastectomy in his youth only to learn afterward that the tumor was benign!) Prompt medical attention can prove a lifesaver for this little-known but dangerous enemy.

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