Mr. Ngoc Minh (40 years old) suddenly discovered stage three breast cancer, the tumor had existed for 10 years, had invaded into the skin, chest muscle and metastasized axillary lymph nodes.
Mr. Vu Ngoc Minh (Gia Lam, Hanoi) said, he felt a small tumor near the left nipple 10 years ago. Seeing that the tumor did not cause pain, he thought it was normal, so he did not go to the doctor. Recently, when the tumor was clearly raised, his skin changed color, he went to Hanoi Tam Anh General Hospital to check and found out that he had breast cancer.
“I am very shocked because no one in my family has had breast cancer. I myself have always thought that this disease only occurs in women”, Mr. Minh said.
According to BS.CKII Le Nguyet Minh, Center for Diagnostic Imaging and Interventional Radiology, Tam Anh Hospital, Hanoi, Mr. Minh’s disease has entered the third stage. The tumor is not too large (30×17 mm) but has invaded the skin, causing discoloration; invades the pectoral muscle, so it is firm and no longer mobile, there is axillary lymph node metastasis. The patient must undergo chemotherapy, a combination of surgery to remove the entire breast tissue with cancer, axillary lymph node dissection and radiation therapy.
Doctor Minh said that many people think that breast cancer is a disease of women, but in fact, there is still a certain percentage of men with this type of cancer, although it is very rare. According to the European Journal of Breast Health, breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all male cancers worldwide. At the National Cancer Center Singapore (NCCS), in 18 years, 62 cases of breast cancer were recorded in men. However, some reports show that the rate of male breast cancer tends to increase in recent decades.
The low rate of breast cancer in men is due to the relatively small amount of breast tissue and the lower production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone (two hormones that promote the production of breast cancer cells) than women. “Because of its rarity, men often have a subjective mentality, skipping breast cancer screening. Most of the diseases are detected at a late stage (three or four), with a high prognosis for death,” said Dr. Minh. emphasize.
A 2019 US study showed that the risk of dying from breast cancer in men is up to 20% higher than in women, with the leading cause being late detection. According to the US statistics in 2020, the rate of men with breast cancer living more than 5 years is 79.1%, the average survival time from diagnosis and treatment for the second stage is 11.5 years, the third stage is only 7.5 years.
Symptoms of breast cancer in men and women have many similarities. In the early stages, patients can feel a lump in the breast, painless, skin irritation or depression, and axillary lymph nodes. Early diagnostic methods include ultrasound, mammogram, MRI, cytology, or tumor biopsy.
Currently, a number of breast cancer screening and examination units, including Tam Anh General Hospital, have applied digital tomography (DBT) mammography to replace the traditional 2D imaging method. According to Dr. Minh, this technique has the advantages of limiting X-rays, reducing pain when squeezing the breast, increasing accuracy, and being able to detect small tumors… (VABB) helps to remove the entire tumor to accurately diagnose the disease, even if the tumor is very small, causing no symptoms. If detected at an early stage, breast cancer can be completely cured by surgical removal of the tumor, local radiation therapy and hormonal drugs to prevent recurrence.
In the advanced stage, the tumor is raised, the skin of the tumor area changes to dark and lumpy like orange peel, begins to appear more symptoms such as nipple retraction or nipple discharge, nipple stiffness and pain. At this time, the doctor considers a combination of many methods such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, targeting depending on the size of the tumor, the extent of spread and metastasis.
Men have a higher risk of breast cancer if they belong to one of the groups such as people over the age of 50; carry mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes; a family history of breast cancer; ever been exposed to radiation in the chest area; use of drugs containing estrogen (a hormone that helps develop and maintain female sex characteristics); orchiectomy; have Klinefelter’s syndrome; Cirrhosis; overweight and obese. Doctor Minh recommends that these people should actively screen for breast cancer every 6-12 months with methods such as mammograms and ultrasounds similar to women.
Image: Tam Anh General Hospital