Male Breast Cancer - The Risk Factors

by unknown | 9:04 PM in |

By: Michael Russell

Most people do not expect a man to be diagnosed with breast cancer. But about one percent of all breast cancer patients are male. In 2007, 450 men and 40,460 women from the United States will die from breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 2,030 new cases of male breast cancer in the United States in 2007. The survival rates among men and women with breast cancer are the same. Several risk factors that increase the chances of developing male breast cancer will be discussed. But just because a man has several risk factors does not necessarily mean that he will get this disease. Some men with no risk factors have been diagnosed.

Both men and women are more likely to develop breast cancer as they get older. For men, the average age they are diagnosed with breast cancer is between the ages of 60 and 70 years old. Men are more likely to develop breast cancer if they are exposed for long periods of time to high temperatures, electromagnetic fields, or ionizing radiation. This is especially true of men who have had to undergo radiation therapy to treat a cancer in the chest area such as Hodgkin's lymphoma.

A man that belongs to a family with women that have been diagnosed with breast cancer has an increased chance of getting this disease. About 1 in 5 men diagnosed with breast cancer have had female relatives who have also been diagnosed with this disease.

Breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) is a gene on chromosome 13 that normally functions to repair damage to DNA. However, some men have genetic mutations of the breast cancer-associated BRCA2 gene and are more likely to get breast cancer because of it. About 15% of the men diagnosed with breast cancer are due to the mutation of the BRCA2 gene. Mutations in this gene can also lead to ovarian and prostate cancers.

A high estrogen level can increase the growth of cancerous breast tumors, which can lead to breast cancer.
This doesn't affect most men since men normally produce low levels of estrogen. However, high estrogen levels can occur in men if they suffer from obesity, Klinefelter's syndrome, or cirrhosis of the liver.

Obesity can lead to an increase in the number of fat cells. These fat cells will convert male hormones (androgens) into female hormones (estrogens).

Normally men have a X (female) and a Y (male) chromosome. A man with Klinefelter's Syndrome will have an extra X chromosome. Klinefelter’s Syndrome is a rare inherited condition that affects only 1 in 1000 men. This condition raises the estrogen level of men and causes them to develop bigger breasts, thinner facial and body hair, and smaller than normal testicles. These men are 50 times more likely to get breast cancer than normal men.

Alcohol abuse and viral hepatitis can cause the liver to have an excess supply of toxic substances, which can cause cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a chronic liver condition that raises estrogen levels. This will raise the chances of getting breast cancer. Men in Middle Eastern and African countries have a greater chance of developing breast cancer than men in the United States because liver disease is more common there.

Article Source: Breast Cancer Guide

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