About Breast Cancer

A closer look at the breast tissue.

Breast cancer occurs when cells in breast tissue grow out of control, becoming malignant. The breast consists of about 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have multiple smaller sections called lobules. These lobules end in tiny bulbs where milk is produced. The bulbs, lobules and lobes are connected by tiny tubes or ducts, which lead to the nipple. Fibrous tissue and fat surround the lobes and all of this breast tissue rests on the muscle of the chest wall. The cells that line the ducts and lobules are those that become malignant.

Initially, these malignant cells remain inside the duct or lobule and at this early stage are called carcinoma in situ. In most cases, the cells have invaded through the wall of the duct or lobule, becoming invasive ductal cancer or invasive lobular cancer. These cells may also invade into the breast’s blood vessels or lymph vessels and spread to the lymph nodes, primarily in the armpit, or to other organs of the body.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer may cause these symptoms:

  • A lump or thickening in the breast or underarm
  • A change in size or shape of the breast
  • A dimple or puckering of the breast
  • A nipple turned inward
  • Fluid, other than milk, from the nipple
  • Scaly, red, swollen skin anywhere on the breast
  • Dimpling of the skin that resembles skin of an orange

Male breast cancer is often found in later stages due to the absence of mammography. Dr. Kumar explains the prognosis for this rare condition.

Breast Cancer in Men

Important facts to know

  • More than 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
  • Survival for men with breast cancer is similar to that for women with the same diagnosis and stage.
  • Breast cancer in men is treated the same as breast cancer in women.

Risk factors for male breast cancer

  • Exposure to radiation
  • Disease or condition that’s related to having high estrogen levels, such as cirrhosis of the liver and a genetic disorder called Klinefelter syndrome
  • Having several female relatives with breast cancer or having an altered BRCA2 gene

The breast cancers that are found in men are:

  • Infiltrating ductal carcinoma
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget disease of the nipple