Breast cancer in men is rare, however there are still 390 cases of male breast cancer every year in the UK.
Male breast cancer is most common among men that are over 60 years old. In some cases, younger men can be affected by breast cancer too. Similarly to breast cancer in women, male breast cancer develops in the breast tissue behind a man’s nipples even though men have a much smaller amount of breast tissue. 

How should I look out for symptoms?

Signs of breast cancer can include:

  • A lump in the breast (most commonly a painless lump)
  • Fluid or discharge around the nipple area
  • A rash around the nipple
  • Lumps in and around the armpit
  • An inverted (retracted) nipple

Male breast cancer risk factors

There are factors that can contribute to an increased risk of male breast cancer. Please note that male breast cancer is rare and experiencing these symptoms does not mean you will definitely develop it. However, if you have any doubts please contact your GP.

Getting older

Simply getting older is the biggest risk factor of breast cancer in men. Most cases occur in men over 60 years old.

High oestrogen levels

It is natural for men to produce a small amount of the hormone oestrogen. High levels of oestrogen however have been linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Exposure to radiation

Men that have spent a lot of time exposed to radiation are more likely to develop breast cancer.

Alcohol consumption

Heavy and regular consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. 

A family history of breast cancer

A family history of breast cancer can often be the result of a faulty gene, which can be passed down from parents to their children. This means that a family history of breast cancer may mean you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Men that inherit this faulty gene still have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than women. 

What can I do about it?

Although men have much smaller amounts of breast tissue, you should always be checking regularly for changes that you can immediately bring to your GP’s attention. The sooner breast cancer is detected, the better the outcome may be.

How male breast cancer is diagnosed

Your GP may request that you complete a questionnaire before examining your breast tissue for signs of cancer. If your doctor or nurse thinks you need further tests, they will refer you to a breast clinic. 

Further tests may include having a mammogram, an ultrasound scan, a fine needle aspiration or a core biopsy.

You will then need to arrange an appointment with your hospital to receive your results.


Similarly to breast cancer in women, male breast cancer can be treated via a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. Occasionally chemotherapy will also be necessary during treatment.


At Breast Cancer Haven our free support services are available for both men and women. We understand that a diagnosis of breast cancer is incredibly difficult and our trained health care professionals, therapists, counsellors and advisers will listen to your individual concerns and give you all the practical, emotional and physical support you need in a tailor-made package.

Contact your nearest Breast Cancer Haven centre and begin your free programme of support today.