Breast Cancer in Men

The male breast

Though boys and girls begin life with similar breast tissue, over time, men do not have the same complex breast growth and development as women. At puberty, high testosterone and low estrogen levels stop breast development in males. Some milk ducts exist in men, but they remain undeveloped. Lobules are most often absent. However, breast problems, including breast cancer, can occur in men.

Breast cancer in men

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen.

In the U.S., about 1 percent of all breast cancer cases occur in men.

Breast cancer risk is much lower in men than in women. The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000 in U.S. men compared to 1 in 8 for U.S. women.

In 2017, it's estimated that among men in the U.S., there will be:

  • 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer (includes new cases of primary breast cancer, but not recurrences of original breast cancers)

  • 460 breast cancer deaths

Rates of breast cancer incidence (new cases) and mortality (death) are much lower among men than among women. Survival rates for men are about the same as for women with the same stage of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis. However, men are often diagnosed at a later stage of breast cancer. Men may be less likely than women to report symptoms, which may lead to delays in diagnosis.

Race and ethnicity

Breast cancer incidence in U.S. men varies by race and ethnicity.

Black men have the highest breast cancer incidence overall. Asian/Pacific Islander men have the lowest.

Black men also have higher breast cancer mortality than white and Hispanic men.

Age at diagnosis

The median age of breast cancer diagnosis for men in the U.S. is 68.