Why Do Men Get Breast Cancer?

Question: Why do men get breast cancer?

Answer:Why do men get breast cancer? Men can get breast cancer for a number of reasons.

One reason we suspect in many men is that men who have breast cancer tend to be exposed to higher circulating estrogen levels, female sex hormone levels for those men who come down with breast cancer. This can be due to a number of reasons, a number of chronic conditions, for instance, such as alcoholic cirrhosis can be associated with higher circulating estrogen levels and this can lead to stimulation and proliferation of breast tissue. Some drugs and some medical conditions, in particular a condition called hyperprolactinemia, can result in stimulation of breast tissue in males and can lead to what's known as gynecomastia.

Another very interesting area that's been looked at in recent years are genetic forms of cancer. We now know that a particular type of genetic mutation known as BRCA2 can be inherited in men just as it can be inherited in women. And if a man carries this BRCA2 mutation, he is at much higher risk than normal for coming down with a breast cancer. Because this mutation can also be passed on to the sons and daughters of men with breast cancer, one thing that we now frequently do for many men, particularly those who also had a history of breast or ovarian cancer in other family members, is to recommend those patients for genetic testing for BRCA2.

Next: Does the Age that I First Got My Menstrual Period Affect My Risk for Breast Cancer?

Dr. George Sledge
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