Breast cancer in men 


One for the Boys: an introduction

One for the Boys is a male cancer awareness campaign. In this video Samuel L. Jackson, actor and chairman of the campaign, describes why it is important to raise awareness and talk about cancer. One for the Boys arms men with the facts and the tools they need to tackle cancer head on.

Media last reviewed: 12/08/2013

Next review due: 12/08/2015

Reducing your risk

The most effective way of reducing your risk of developing breast cancer, as well as other serious health conditions, is to:

Read more about preventing cancer.

Breast cancer is often thought of as a condition that only affects women, but men can also develop it.

Breast cancer in men is much less common than breast cancer in women, with only around one new case diagnosed for every 100,000 men in the UK each year.   

The cancer develops in the small amount of breast tissue men have behind their nipples. The most common symptom is a hard, painless lump in one of the breasts.

However, it is important to note that the vast majority of breast lumps are due to a condition called gynaecomastia. This is a common, non-cancerous condition where male breast tissue becomes enlarged.

Breast cancer in men can also cause nipple problems, such as the nipple turning in on itself (retraction) or nipple discharge.

Read more about the symptoms of male breast cancer.

When to see your GP

You should always talk to your GP if you notice a lump in your breast, or you have problems affecting your nipples, such as discharge.

While these symptoms are unlikely to be caused by breast cancer, they should be investigated further. 

Why it happens

The cause of male breast cancer is unclear, but factors known to increase your chances of developing the condition include:

  • age – most cases affect men over 60 years of age
  • having a family history of breast cancer (male or female)
  • obesity – a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more

Read more about causes of breast cancer in men.

Who is affected

Breast cancer is much rarer in men than women. Only about 1 in 1,000 men develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Around 350-400 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in men in the UK every year. The condition is most often diagnosed in men aged 60-70.

Treating breast cancer in men

In most cases, surgery is used to remove the cancer along with a section of the breast. This is usually followed by a long-term course of hormone therapy using a medication called tamoxifen.

Tamoxifen helps to block the effects of hormones on breast tissue that are known to stimulate the growth of cancerous cells. It should help prevent the cancer from returning.

In some cases, radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be used for the same purpose.

Read more about treating breast cancer in men.


The outlook for breast cancer is not as good in men as in women. This is because there is reduced awareness of the condition and it may take longer to diagnose.

The survival rates for breast cancer in men largely depend on how far the cancer has spread before it is diagnosed. Breast cancer diagnosed at an early stage can often be treated successfully, but effective treatment is more difficult if the cancer has spread beyond the breast tissue.

Unfortunately, many cases are diagnosed after the cancer has already started to spread.

Read more about diagnosing breast cancer in men.

Page last reviewed: 02/05/2013

Next review due: 02/05/2015


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The 6 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

mikedg92 said on 19 November 2014

Hi there, over the last two weeks ive had a small pain behind my left nipple, not entirely sure if im feeling a lump or just my Pectoral muscle. I'm in the Army so always keeping very active although there is a big history of cancer in my family. Is it worth a visit to the Med centre?


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Jfinn said on 18 November 2013

Hey guys just been reading these comments. I have the exact same thing as obealy. I'm 28 and have the same lump behind my nipple on my left pectoral. I must admit after checking it all out on the Internet I think I may have scared myself. I've already been to my GP and I'm going for a scan this coming Monday. I will let you all know how it goes. Oh and to 'the last uchiha".......I'm a massive naruto fan. Great name. Itachi is one of my all time faves. Will let you all know (just for scientific purposes). Hope you're well obealy!

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westmidsman said on 31 October 2013

I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a masectomy about 3 weeks ago and will soon be starting chemotherapy. It is a pretty scary time. The surgeon has told me that I no longer have cancer, this was removed during the masectomy. I also had 3 sentinal lympth modes removed, one of which had cancer cells in it. The surrounding tissue was healthy. The chemo and radiotherapy will hopefully purge my body of any random cancer cells floating around. I am also taking Tamoxifen. This will also help stop breast cancer occuring again in the future. My particular cancer needs oestrogen to activate it. The Tamoxifen blocks this and efectively locks the oestrogen out. (I think I've got this right?)
Everyone has been first class, from my GP who "fast tracked" me, to the specialist and cancer care nurses.
If you are a man, and suspect you have a lump behind your nipple, please dont delay, see your GP asap. Ignoring it is not an option.

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The Last Uchiha said on 03 June 2013

OBrealy mate, get that seen to, even though it's scary - you'll be much more relieved when you actually know whats going on.

Hope it's all good bro.

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roxyk said on 14 May 2013

OBrealy you should go to your GP asap and get checked out. Don't be scared or embarrassed about going, GPs have seen everything and will be able to put your mind at rest.

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OBrealy said on 29 April 2013

I'm a 17 year old Male and I'm genuinely really frightened. I have a pain which feels like a large mass or lump under my left nipple, which hurts to press. What is this? Help please

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